Two Texas groups are among the first to receive grants from BP’s Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to study how last year’s massive oil spill impacted the environment and to develop methods to better respond to future spills.
The board awarded a total $112.5 million to eight research teams, including one from the University of Texas at Austin’s Marine Science Institute and another from Texas A&M University at College Station.
BP has committed $500 million over ten years for independent research projects on the Macondo well blowout that sent oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months. The company formed the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to administer the funding.
Information from the research will be used restore the Gulf of Mexico and improve its long-term health, according to GRI Board Chairman Rita R. Colwell.
“The results will illuminate the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, and enable appropriate responses should there be future releases not only in the Gulf of Mexico, but anywhere that oil and gas is produced in ocean environments,” Cowell said in a written statement. “The long term contribution of this research will be of major benefit to industry, governments, and the people who live along the Gulf of Mexico coast.”
The awarded projects investigate the impact of oil and other substances that leaked during the spill on the marine environment and coastal communities.
The Texas A&M group is studying oil spill response and the UT Austin team will study its impact.
The other awarded teams are based at Florida State University, Tulane University, University of South Florida, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, University of Miami and University of Mississippi.
The GRI board issued the call for research proposals April 25. The grants are awarded over three years and the teams can apply for renewals, Cowell said.