RPT-UPDATE 1-Oil, gas well has blowout off Louisiana, 47 evacuated

Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:54pm EDT

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HOUSTON, July 23 (Reuters) - A shallow-water oil and gas well in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana blew out on Tuesday morning and 47 people were safely evacuated, government officials said.

Hercules Offshore, which owns the jackup rig that was drilling to prepare the Walter Oil & Gas well for production, said the company was working to regain control of the well.

Shares of Hercules were down 3.3 percent at $7.62.

The well is about 55 miles offshore in 154 feet of water.

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the well was flowing gas but no oil was being released. It added there was a "light sheen" a half mile by 50 feet across that was dissipating.

Authorities have tightened safety regulations since the BP Plc 2010 Macondo blowout and oil spill that spewed more than 4 million barrels of crude into the Gulf.

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