Relief well underway on blown Gulf gas well

GULF OF MEXICO — Workers have started drilling a relief well to permanently seal a gas well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico last month off the coast of Louisiana, federal regulators said today.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the drilling began yesterday and is expected to take about 35 days to complete. Drilling mud and cement will be pumped into the well once the relief well intercepts it.

The bureau said a sheen can no longer be seen near the site of the blowout in shallow waters about 55 miles south of the coast.

Nobody was injured when the well owned by Houston-based Walter Oil & Gas Corp. blew out on July 23. All 44 people aboard a drilling rig owned by Hercules Offshore were evacuated before a fire broke out.

Authorities said sand and debris has clogged the well and stopped the flow of gas.

The cause of the blowout remained under investigation today.

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