Remaining Oil Workers Held Hostage Have Been Freed

ChevronTexaco said that local militants who invaded the jackup, Noble Lloyd Noble in southern Nigeria evacuated the facility on Thursday, freeing 43 of its workers held hostage since Sunday. The workers were unharmed.

"The seige on the rig ended this morning (Thursday)," Joe Jakpa, a ChevronTexaco spokesman said. "The youths have evacuated the rig and the workers were neither harassed nor harmed." Militant youths demanding contracted jobs invaded the rig, located offshore Nigeria, seizing 88 workers including foreigners initially. Of these, 45 were freed on Tuesday and evacuated from the rig.

The youths evacuated the drilling rig after protracted negotiations between ChevronTexaco, local community leaders and regional authorities. The oil major said the freed 43 workers will continue working on the rig. "It was mainly an invasion of the facility by unarmed youths looking for jobs, but we can't employ all of them because a rig carries just about 88 workers," Jakpa said. "I don't think the initial idea was to hold anybody hostage."