BP to commit up to $500 million to oil spill research

HOUSTON Mon May 24, 2010 3:50pm EDT

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Oil major BP said it would pay up to $500 million over 10 years to fund research into the effects of an oil spill from its Gulf of Mexico well, as it faces pressure from the U.S. government to halt the leak.

BP said the research would try to assess the impact of Ocean currents, how the oil affects sea life and whether chemicals used to disperse the spill damages the environment.

The London-based company, which has faced increasingly harsh criticism from President Barack Obama's administration in the past week, said it was starting the programme with an undisclosed grant to Louisiana State University.

BP shares have fallen on investor fears the damage to its reputation in the United States could severely curb the company's business in its most important market, where 40 percent of its assets are based.

BP's Macondo well has been leaking for over a month, pumping over 5,000 barrels per day into the sea.

(Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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