Oil Workers Held Hostage Offshore Nigeria

Militant youths were still holding 43 workers hostage on a jackup off the coast of Nigeria on Tuesday after releasing 45 of the original 88 hostages, ChevronTexaco officials said. Negotiations are continuing for the release of the rest of the hostages. "We are encouraged by an agreement that was reached today for 45 workers on the rig to leave tonight Nigeria time," said ChevronTexaco spokesman Fred Gorell. "We hope (negotiations) will bring swift and peaceful resolution to the occupation.,"

Earlier ChevronTexaco reported that 88 of its workers, including 22 foreigners, were being held hostage on the jackup Noble Lloyd Noble by local militant youths. The rig is working offshore Nigeria in OML 90.

ChevronTexaco's General Manager, Dick Filgate, said that about 40 youths in boats had approached the rig, which is owned by Noble Drilling, on Sunday. About 20 of them boarded and had remained there since. "They mobilized a bunch of boats and people and occupied one of the drilling rigs," Filgate said. "The people on board the rig went inside and locked their doors." He said the youths did not appear to be armed and the workers did not feel particularly threatened. Regional authorities had been informed and talks were being arranged with the youths for Wednesday.