Exxon, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips will each contribute 25 percent to a $1 billion company that would be able to mobilize a response within 24 hours to capture and contain deep-sea oil spills, the companies said on Wednesday.
BP, whose blown-out well has leaked as much as 180 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, is not included in the venture but may, along with other companies, be able to use the strike force.
"We don't want to distract them at all," Rex Tillerson, Exxon's chief executive, told the Wall Street Journal.
The joint venture’s equipment will include a containment vessel capable of capturing up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day and other equipment to siphon any leaking oil up from the seafloor to a depth of 10,000 feet.
The four companies, which rely on offshore drilling, were not involved in the Gulf oil spill. But the growing catastrophe has dragged down share values as lawmakers promised to beef up regulations against the industry.
BP tried and failed several times to contain the gusher off the Louisiana Coast, frustrating residents and lawmakers. The British oil giant was later criticized for grossly underestimating the impact of a deepwater well blowout and overstating its ability to contain it.