Embattled oil giant BP on Thursday established a $100 million fund to support unemployed rig workers displaced by the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
The federal government enacted the deepwater drilling ban in response to the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf, which killed 11 rig workers and caused one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history.
BP announced the newly established Rig Worker Assistance Fund (RWAF) "fulfills the commitment BP announced on June 16 to provide $100 million in assistance as a gesture of good will for the people of the Gulf Coast region." It will be operated through a supporting group of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF).
“BRAF has a strong track record of meeting community needs, and we are confident the foundation will respond effectively to assist the rig workers who today are struggling to make ends meet,” said BP Managing Director Bob Dudley.
BP has come under pressure from the Obama administration and Congress to work more efficiently to provide aid to Gulf coast residents affected by the spill.
But some members of Congress, including many who represent Gulf coast districts, have called on the administration to lift the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling, arguing it has caused economic damage to their constituents.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs praised the move.
"We are pleased that BP has taken action today to fulfill their commitment to the president and provide a voluntary contribution of $100 million to support unemployed oil rig workers," he said Thursday.