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BP Selects Strategic Partners For Energy Biosciences Institute

BP has selected the University of California Berkeley and its partners the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to join in a $500 million research program that will explore how bioscience can be used to increase energy production and reduce the impact of energy consumption on the environment.

The Energy Biosciences Institute will perform ground-breaking research aimed at the production of new and cleaner energy, initially focusing on renewable biofuels for road transport. The EBI will also pursue bioscience- based research in three other key areas; the conversion of heavy hydrocarbons to clean fuels, improved recovery from existing oil and gas reservoirs, and carbon sequestration.

"The proposal from UC Berkeley and its partners was selected in large part because these institutions have excellent track records of delivering 'Big Science' - large and complex developments predicated on both scientific breakthroughs and engineering applications that can be deployed in the real world," said BP Group Chief Executive John Browne. "This program will further both basic and applied biological research relevant to energy. In short, it will create the discipline of Energy Biosciences. The Institute will be unique in both its scale and its partnership between BP, academia and others in the private sector."

Dedicated facilities on the campuses of UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois will house EBI research laboratories and staff. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will carry out supporting research. Up to 50 BP staff located on the two campuses will work in partnership with university faculty and researchers. BP and its partners will share governance of the EBI and guidance of its research programs.

"We are delighted to welcome UC Berkeley, the University of Illinois and the Lawrence Berkeley Lab to this effort," said Bob Malone, chairman and president of BP America Inc. "We are joining with some of the world's best science and engineering talent to meet the world's demand for low carbon energy. As part of that effort we will be working to improve and expand the production of clean, renewable energy through the integrated development of better crops, better processing technologies, and new biofuels."

"BP's award is a tribute to the scientific excellence of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its academic partners at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. "As we continue to promote alternative energy as a means to strengthen our nation's energy security, it is important that private industry join in support of research to advance President Bush's goal of making clean energy sources, like bioenergy and biofuels, commercially available."

"We are extremely pleased that BP has chosen to partner with the University of California at Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to create the Energy Biosciences Institute," said Dr. Robert J. Birgeneau, chancellor of UC Berkeley. "Contributing our world-class expertise in the areas of alternative energy research and policy with BP's ambitious vision for EBI will harness the most creative science and innovative technologies to develop viable solutions to global energy challenges. We are tremendously excited at the possibility this partnership holds for solving one of the most fundamental problems that currently faces our nations and the world."

"I can't tell you how excited I am that BP has chosen UC Berkeley and California for its new $500 Million Energy Biosciences Institute," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I'm proud that the private sector has recognized California's leadership and commitment to clean energy. This is a perfect complement to our new low-carbon fuel standard which will cut carbon emissions 10 percent from our cars by the year 2020, and with research facilities like the Energy Biosciences Institute, California will continue to be a leader in the Cleantech industry."

"I thank BP for engaging the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in this noble enterprise," said Richard Herman, chancellor of UIUC. "This exciting venture allows two of the country's greatest public universities to work together to develop renewable energy - an initiative that will play a critical role in the success and security of our nation. Addressing the problems facing society is the business of our institution. The scientists leading this important work are continuing Illinois' rich heritage of paradigm-changing discovery and innovation."

"We are extremely pleased that Illinois and our flagship public-research university is a part of BP's exciting new Energy Biosciences Institute, which will advance important new discoveries to protect our environment and expand our economy," said Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. "If we make these kinds of investments now in cleaner renewable biofuels like ethanol and other biodiesel, within ten years we'll be able to produce enough energy from our own natural resources to dramatically cut our dependence on foreign energy and help fight global warming. That means billions of our hard-earned dollars will stay here at home, in our economy creating more jobs, rather than leaving our country forever. As a national leader in corn and soybean production and world-class biofuels research and development, Illinois is uniquely positioned to advance the vision of this new Institute. We look forward to working together with BP and our partners in the state of California to bring even more efficient and effective renewable sources of energy to the marketplace," Gov. Blagojevich said.

BP's decision to devote significant resources to widening the availability of biofuels is part of its strategy of identifying low carbon or renewable fuels for the future. It follows on from the company's announcement of BP Alternative Energy - a dedicated alternative energy business which is active in solar, wind, hydrogen and combined-cycle-gas-turbine (CCGT) power generation - and the establishment of a biofuels business within its Refining & Marketing Business.

BP is already a top player in the global biofuels market, blending and distributing 590 million gallons of ethanol and 70 million gallons of biodiesel in 2005. In 2006 BP blended 718 million gallons of ethanol with gasoline - a 25 percent increase from the previous year. With the blending and marketing of these products, along with other refined products, BP accounts for about 10 percent of the global biofuels market.

With current production technology, only a fraction of the oil contained in most reservoirs is ever recovered. Depending on reservoir quality, recovery rates can vary from 20 to 70 percent. The EBI will explore the possibility of using biological methods to improve recovery rates.

Plants and other organisms can remove CO2 from the atmosphere and transfer it to the soil or ocean. The EBI will work on techniques to enhance this process.

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