HOUSTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Crews were working Monday to control an oil well blowout that has forced evacuation of homes and businesses near Belle Rose, Louisiana, about 70 miles west of New Orleans, officials said.
No one was hurt when the blowout began Aug. 11. But six homes and two businesses have been evacuated and stretches of road closed in a one-mile perimeter around the well that has gushed as high as 200 feet into the air.
The well, owned by Mantle Oil and Gas LLC of Friendswood, Texas, was being completed by Cajun Well Service of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, when the blowout happened, officials said.
Drilling of a relief well to control the blowout began over the weekend and could take three to six weeks, a news release from the Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said.
More than 44,000 barrels (1.8 million gallons, 6.8 million liters) of oil, gas condensate and brine have been captured inside a dike around the well since the blowout began, and the spill was being vacuumed up, officials said.
Stormy weather has impaired efforts to control the well, hampering attempts to set it afire to burn off the spewing hydrocarbons. A controlled burn was still being planned, a news release said. (Reporting by Bruce Nichols; Editing by David Gregorio)