BP Exploration & Production has signed an agreement with federal and state agencies to speed up work to restore areas of the Gulf of Mexico affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year.

The agreement commits up to $1bn to projects that will restore injured resources in the Gulf at the earliest opportunity.

The projects will undergo public review before they are funded, and priority will be assigned to projects aimed at improving areas that offer the greatest benefits to wildlife, habitat and recreational use.

Natural Resource Damage Assessment studies are currently underway to identify evident injuries and propose plans to restore them.

Work is expected to begin this year, BP said in a release.