Nigerian Navy Rescues ChevronTexaco Hostages

The Nigerian Navy Thursday rescued 14 ChevronTexaco workers held hostage by militants in the Niger Delta, local media reports said Friday.

The Navy also killed one of the kidnappers and arrested 20 others, the reports said. ChevronTexaco said in a statement Thursday that ethnic Ijaw militants from the Bini-Oru Security organization, which is based in the Foropa Community in Bayelsa State, had boarded its Middleton and Pennington platforms Wednesday and taken 18 workers hostage.

The kidnappers released four of the hostages Thursday.

Media reports said the kidnappers had demanded immediate payment of 260 million naira ($1=NGN140.290) to an indigenous security firm which has carried out work for ChevronTexaco at the platforms.

"Production of 23,000 bpd from Middleton, Pennington, North Apoi and Funiwa has been shut in and personnel evacuated until the situation returns to normal," said a statement by the company.

"While we do not yet have any confirmed details on how the hostages were freed, we are very relieved that the terrible ordeal is over," the statement quoted Chuck Taylor, Managing Director of ChevronTexaco Overseas (Nigeria) as saying. "Our focus now is on trying to secure the release of the two missing workers," he added.