An armed gang has stormed two US-owned oil platforms in the sea off southern Nigeria and is holding 14 workers capitive, energy giant ChevronTexaco revealed. Chevron Nigeria’s public affairs manager Sola Omole said in a statement that 18 Nigerian workers were on the rigs on Tuesday when the assailants arrived, but four have already been released.
“So far, no one has been reported injured,” he said.
The gang are members of a security outfit recruited from the local ethnic Ijaw community by ChevronTexaco to protect the rigs. They are reported to be demanding a huge cash payout.
The rigs # the Pennington and the Middleton platforms # lie a short distance off the shore of Bayelsa State, part of the oil-rich but socially troubled Niger Delta region.
“Senior officials of the Bayelsa State covernment are helping with the negotiations to ensure a safe and peaceful resolution of the incident,” Omole said.
“The management of the Chevron Nigeria Ltd has reported the incident to federal security agencies,” he added.
According to a report in the Nigerian daily The Vanguard, the gang is armed with assault rifles, and two Nigerian navy patrol boats have been sent to the area.