The hostages, including six British nationals, one Canadian and one US citizen were released in two batches following negotiations conducted by officials of the southern Bayelsa state in charge of the area where the kidnap occurred.
“They have all been freed and are all in good health,” Ekiyor Welson, spokesman for Bayelsa state told IRIN in the state capital Yenagoa.
All the men had been taken in a pre-dawn raid on Friday from the rig named Bulford Dolphin, operated by Norway firm Fred Olsen on behalf of Peak Petroleum Industries of Nigeria, some 42 kilometres offshore.
Two of the hostages were initially released about 0300 hours local time (0200 GMT) on Sunday morning, with the rest freed just before noon.
In an official statement afterwards, the Bayelsa Governor Goodluck Jonathan, accused Peak Petroluem of triggering the raid by failing to provide the nearby Bilabiri community with jobs and other benefits.
“From the discussions we held with the chiefs and people of Bilabiri community, we gathered that there are outstanding issues concerning employment,” Jonathan said. “The people of Bilabiri are aggrieved that nobody from the community has been employed by the company,” he added.
A meeting has been scheduled for Monday between officials of the oil company and representatives of the community to iron out remaining differences, according to the statement.
Officials of Peak Petroleum were not immediately available for comment.
Violent attacks on foreigners and international oil companies have peaked in recent months as armed militias protest what they call the marginalisation of the oil rich Niger Delta, which remains one of the poorest regions of West Africa despite its oil wealth.
Since the beginning of the year militia attacks have forced operators in Nigeria to cut oil exports of 2.5 million barrels a day by more than 20 percent.
Most of the attacks have been claimed by the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which says it is fighting for local control of oil wealth now in the hands of the federal government. But the group has denied any involvement in the latest attack and kidnapping.
Copyright © IRIN 2006