BP pledged to spend up to $500 million to research the environmental impact of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its attempts to counter the oil with chemical dispersants. That should keep a lot of scientists flush with grant money for quite some time.
An excerpt from a press release on BP's website:
"BP has made a commitment to doing everything we can to lessen the impact of this tragic incident on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast. We must make every effort to understand that impact. This will be a key part of the process of restoration, and for improving the industry response capability for the future. There is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific community has access to the samples and the raw data it needs to begin this work," said Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive.
If BP is also trying to improve its cratering public image or try to mitigate the eventual damage the company might have to pay in damages, there's nothing about that in the press release.
BP also provides a list of questions it developed with scientists it'd like answers for.
The key questions to be addressed by this 10-year research program reflect discussions with the US government and academic scientists in Washington DC last week. BP will fund research to examine topics including:
Where are the oil, the dispersed oil, and the dispersant going under the action of ocean currents?
How do oil, the dispersed oil and the dispersant behave on the seabed, in the water column, on the surface, and on the shoreline?
What are the impacts of the oil, the dispersed oil, and the dispersant on the biota of the seabed, the water column, the surface, and the shoreline?
How do accidental releases of oil compare to natural seepage from the seabed?
What is the impact of dispersant on the oil? Does it help or hinder biodegradation?