On May 24, BP announced the overall research program with the commitment to fund $500 million over a 10-year period for scientific studies. While the details of the full program were being developed, a series of fast-track grants were made to accelerate data acquisition and analysis: Louisiana State University ($5 million), the Northern Gulf Institute ($10 million), the Florida Institute of Oceanography ($10 million), the Alabama Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium ($5 million) and the National Institutes of Health ($10m).
Today's announcement details the agreement for program implementation for the remaining years of the 10-year program. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance will administer the GRI with the ability to execute contracts and provide the required program management support.
"We are delighted that the Gulf of Mexico Alliance has agreed to participate in the implementation of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative," said David Rainey, Vice President of Science, Technology, Environment, and Regulatory Affairs, in BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. "BP is committed to understanding the long-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon incident on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico. With this agreement in place we can now move forward to engage the best research scientists in the Gulf Coast, and elsewhere."
The GRI will be managed by a board comprised of scientists from academic institutions with peer-recognized credentials. BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance will appoint an equal number of research scientists to the board.
The objectives of the research will be to address the following five themes:
- The physical distribution and ultimate fate of contaminants associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident.
- The chemical evolution and biological degradation of the contaminants.
- The environmental effects of the contaminants on Gulf of Mexico ecosystems, and the science of ecosystem recovery.
- Technology developments for improved detection, characterization, mitigation, and remediation of offshore oil spills.
- Integration of the previous four themes in the context of human health.
"I am extremely excited that the Gulf of Mexico Alliance has this opportunity to join BP in this ground-breaking research initiative," said Dr. Bill Walker, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and current Co-Chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Management Team. "The Alliance has worked for several years on priority issues such as water quality, habitat conservation, ecosystem integration and coastal community resilience. We believe the fundamental work provided by this research initiative will both inform and help direct work to ensure the viability of the Gulf Coast."
The independent scientific research will be conducted at academic institutions primarily in the US Gulf Coast states. However, appropriate partnerships with institutions based outside the US Gulf region will be welcome.
Funds will be distributed using the practice of merit review by peer evaluation as described in the 2005 Report of the National Science Board (NSB-05-119).
Individual researchers will comply with professional standards as laid out in the National Academy of Sciences Publication - On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research (2009).
The research will involve sampling, modelling and studies - not acquisition or construction of infrastructure such as ships or laboratories.
All GRI-funded research will be independent of BP, and the results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals with no requirement for BP approval
Notes to editors:
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a partnership of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas with the goal of significantly increasing regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico.
BP Gulf of Mexico response: www.bp.com/gulfofmexico
BP Press Office London: +44 20 7496 4076
BP Press office, US: +1 281 366 0265