Nigeria confirms release of oil hostages

Nigeria confirms release of oil hostages

YENAGOA – Nigeria’s latest hostage crisis came to a peaceful end as six Britons, one American and one Canadian held captive for two days were released unharmed, looking tired, but in good health.

A state governor accused the Nigerian company for which the eight foreigners were drilling of bringing on the crisis by failing to honour agreements with local inhabitants and not hiring anybody from the impoverished area in the southern oil-rich region. A group of unidentified militants from southeastern Bayelsa state who were demanding jobs and money kidnapped the expatriates Friday from an offshore oil platform 65 kilometres from Nigeria’s southeastern coast.Aberdeen, Scotland-based Dolphin Drilling Ltd.operated the rig on behalf of Nigerian oil firm Peak Petroleum Industries Nigeria Ltd.Dolphin Drilling’s parent company in Norway confirmed all the oil workers had been released on Sunday.”All eight are healthy and will be allowed to go home to receive whatever care they need,” Jan Peter Valheim, chief financial officer of Fred Olsen Energy ASA, said by telephone from Norway.”It is a relief …We are of course very pleased by the outcome.”Two Britons were released before dawn, followed later on Sunday by the six remaining hostages.All eight met with Bayelsa Governor Goodluck Jonathan and were then handed over to a representative of Peak Petroleum in Yenagoa, the state capital.The eight looked tired but cheerful, and said they were treated well by their kidnappers, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene.They were later flown to Lagos, and were expected to leave soon after for their native countries, Bayelsa state spokesman Ekiyor Welson said.After the eight were taken hostage on Friday, Deputy Governor Peremobowei Ebebi led a government delegation to Bilabiri, the village which the kidnappers were believed to have come from, to negotiate their release, Welson said.Jonathan accused Peak Petroleum of failing to honour agreements with local community leaders, but gave few details.He said the crisis was fuelled by “outstanding issues concerning employment.The people of Bilabiri are aggrieved that nobody from the community has been employed by the company.”Company officials were not available for comment.- Nampa-APA group of unidentified militants from southeastern Bayelsa state who were demanding jobs and money kidnapped the expatriates Friday from an offshore oil platform 65 kilometres from Nigeria’s southeastern coast.Aberdeen, Scotland-based Dolphin Drilling Ltd.operated the rig on behalf of Nigerian oil firm Peak Petroleum Industries Nigeria Ltd.Dolphin Drilling’s parent company in Norway confirmed all the oil workers had been released on Sunday.”All eight are healthy and will be allowed to go home to receive whatever care they need,” Jan Peter Valheim, chief financial officer of Fred Olsen Energy ASA, said by telephone from Norway.”It is a relief …We are of course very pleased by the outcome.”Two Britons were released before dawn, followed later on Sunday by the six remaining hostages.All eight met with Bayelsa Governor Goodluck Jonathan and were then handed over to a representative of Peak Petroleum in Yenagoa, the state capital.The eight looked tired but cheerful, and said they were treated well by their kidnappers, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene.They were later flown to Lagos, and were expected to leave soon after for their native countries, Bayelsa state spokesman Ekiyor Welson said.After the eight were taken hostage on Friday, Deputy Governor Peremobowei Ebebi led a government delegation to Bilabiri, the village which the kidnappers were believed to have come from, to negotiate their release, Welson said.Jonathan accused Peak Petroleum of failing to honour agreements with local community leaders, but gave few details.He said the crisis was fuelled by “outstanding issues concerning employment.The people of Bilabiri are aggrieved that nobody from the community has been employed by the company.”Company officials were not available for comment.- Nampa-AP

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