BP announced on Tuesday that it would be doling out the first US$25 million of its pledged half-billion dollar Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) to three US institutions. The company will be fast-tracking $5 million to Louisiana State University, $10 million to the Florida Institute of Oceanography, and $10 million to the Northern Gulf Institute, which is a consortium of institutes led by Mississippi State University. Each institution will decide internally how the funds will be spent.
The research dollars will be devoted to high-priority studies to understand the interactions between oil and dispersants and to assess their impacts on vulnerable ecosystems. Since chemical dispersants have primarily been used for treating oil at the surface in prior spills, little is known about how oil and dispersants interact at great depths in the water column.
BP expects to announce a call for proposals within a day or two for long-term research ideas and large-scale research networks to be funded by the remaining US$475,000 promised by the GRI.
The company has appointed an independent advisory council, which consists of six high-profile scientists, including Rita Colwell, former director of the US National Science Foundation, Rita Colwell, who will chair the panel