ChevronTexaco Still Working to Free Hostages

ChevronTexaco is still hopeful that 43 of its workers being held hostage by Nigerian militants would be freed. But the company said it feared that negotiations with the Nigerian hostage takers could drag on to Thursday.

"We don't know when the talks will end," said in a statement. "It could be today, it could be tomorrow, but we don't want the talks to drag on forever." The militant youths were still holding 43 workers, including foreigners, on the jackup, Noble Lloyd Noble, offshore Nigeria after releasing 45 of the original 88 hostages on Tuesday. The company had arranged talks with the youths who stormed the rig last Sunday demanding contract jobs. The talks began at 1000 GMT.

"Our people are still talking with the youths, their traditional rulers and state government officials. We are optimistic that the issue will be amicably resolved," Jakpa said. "We believe that reason will prevail and the workers will be released. We cannot stop talking until we achieve that," Jakpa said. "The good thing however is that they are unharmed."