Synopsis of Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative
On 24 May 2010, BP committed $500 million over a 10 year period to create a broad, independent research program to be conducted at research institutions primarily in the US Gulf Coast States. The program will be known as the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).On 15 June 2010, BP announced the names of the scientific experts who would form GoMRI s independent Research Board. BP, in consultation with the White House and the Governors of the five Gulf Coastal States,later expanded the GoMRI Research Board to 20 members by adding additional scientific expertise. The Research Board is responsible for preparing requests for proposals (RFPs), enabling an open and transparent peer review process, selecting proposals for funding, and reviewing annual progress for continuation funding.
On March 14, 2011, BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (the Alliance is a non profit entity formed by the Governors of the five Gulf Coastal States) entered into the GoMRI Master Research Agreement (GoMRI MRA). The GoMRI MRA creates the structure for the GoMRI, the selection and distribution of grants from the GoMRI, as well as the funding, conduct, and oversight of research in furtherance of the purposes of the GoMRI. Any Research Consortium,research institution, or co investigator that receives funding, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, under the GoMRI is subject to and must comply with the terms and conditions of the GoMRI MRA. The GoMRI is an independent scientific research program and is separate from the Natural Resources Damages Assessment process, and BP agrees that the participation of the Alliance in this Agreement shall not result in a credit against or defense to any claims for natural resource damages or assessment costs.
The objectives of the GoMRI are to investigate the impacts of the oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and affected Gulf Coastal States in a broad context of improving fundamental understanding of the dynamics of such events, the associated environmental stresses, and the public health implications. The GoMRI will also develop improved spill mitigation, oil and gas detection, characterization, and remediation technologies. The ultimate goal of the GoMRI will be to improve society s ability to understand and respond to the impacts of petroleum pollution and related stressors of the marine and coastal ecosystems, with an emphasis on conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. Knowledge accrued will be applied to restoration and to improvement of the long term environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico.
The GoMRI emphasizes interdisciplinary science and technology involving experts in physical, chemical, geological, and biological oceanography; marine biology; coastal and reef ecosystems, fisheries and wildlife ecology; public health; and associated development of physical, chemical, and biological instrumentation, advanced modelling, and informatics. All activities will combine state of the art research with deep scientific knowledge of the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico to create fundamental advances in understanding the interactions that occurred and continue to occur among the marine and coastal ecosystems, oil, and oil dispersants produced by the catastrophic loss of the DWH oil drilling platform. The success of the GoMRI depends on a combination of regional knowledge with regional, national, and international research innovation.
The GoMRI does not accept unsolicited proposals. Instead, research is funded within designated theme areas during designated cycles. A description of funding awarded to date follows, but more detail can be found here: http://research.gulfresearchinitiative.org/.
BP provided GoMRI Year 1 (1 June 2010 31 May 2011) funds to Gulf Coast State institutions for rapid response studies in the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. Pursuant to this GoMRI, the remaining funds to conduct these studies are to be distributed to academic and research institutions ( Research Institutions ) primarily in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas (the Gulf Coast States ), which have formed or may form appropriate partnerships with Research Institutions based outside of the Gulf Coast States.
RFP I selected the research activities for GoMRI Years 2 4 (1 June 2011 31 May 2014) involving Research Consortia, defined as having four or more institutions. In general, the Research Consortia consist of Research Institutions in the Gulf Coast States, with Research Institutions outside of the Gulf Coast States as members of or participants in partnerships with Research Consortia, to the extent required to ensure the delivery of high quality scientific studies in fulfillment of the objectives and ultimate goal of the GoMRI. The total funds available for distribution to Research Consortia through RFP I are $37.5 million per year.
The second RFP (RFP II) focused on activities involving less money and less internal management than a Research Consortium. RFP II requested proposals from individual or collaborative efforts involving a principal investigator (PI) and co principal investigators (co PIs) from up to three additional institutions and was focused on the same research themes described in RFP I. RFP II funds activities for GoMRI Years 2- 4 and the total funds available for distribution are $7.5 million per year.
RFP III supported continuity of critical observations and sampling related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill from during July 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011, including ancillary work, such as cataloging the observations and samples and preparing them for availability to the wider community. RFP-III was intended to fill a funding gap in critical data acquisition. The total funds available through RFP-III were $1.5 million.
Twelve Research Consortia were selected for RFP IV. Research Consortia, defined as a contractual arrangement between a PI and co-PIs at four or more institutions, will conduct research that addresses the five GoMRI Research Themes.The total funds available for distribution to Research Consortia through the 2015-2017 GoMRI Research Consortia RFP will be approximately $35 million per year.
Proposals submitted to RFP V are currently undergoing peer review. RFP-V solicits proposals from individual investigators or collaborative efforts comprising a principal investigator and up to three co-principal investigators. The total funds available for distribution through the 2016-2018 GoMRI Individual Investigators RFP will be approximately $9 million per year.