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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 program with an undisclosed grant to Louisiana State University.

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