Offshore Research to be Funded by BP Fines
A portion of the fines that BP has been ordered to pay by the federal government from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and ensuing Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be used for offshore research. The research will be led by a team from the University of Houston and will focus on subsea engineering and other ways to develop safe, sustainable energy production in the Gulf. The goal of the research is to search for methods of offshore drilling that will reduce the risk of accidents and other catastrophes such as the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Additional Funding May Come
Texas Governor Rick Perry stated that at least $4 million will be given to the research center at the University of Houston. A second research center is planned for Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Additional funding may be administered once the total amount of BP's fines has been determined by the courts.
The lead research team will work in collaboration with engineers from Rice University, Texas Southern University, Lone Star College, Houston Community College, and the Johnson Space Center. The University of Houston research center will also serve as a forum for federal regulators and other industry experts to test and validate equipment , develop new materials and best practices for offshore drilling, and train future engineers how to work at extreme depths.
The Subsea Institute
The research center will be known as The Subsea Institute. It is one of two Texas-based research centers that will receive funding from the federal government with the penalties paid by BP. The federal funding is a part of the RESTORE Act, which requires the states that were affected by the oil spill to use the funding on research centers for offshore drilling. The University of Houston was chosen as the lead research center due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and because it has the nation's only subsea engineering program.