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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 May, 2003, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Briton's oil rig ordeal
Paul Baker
Paul Baker said hostages had been threatened with death

A British oil worker, who was among hundreds being held hostage on several Nigerian oil rigs after being caught up in an industrial dispute, has described his ordeal.

Paul Baker, from Devon, told reporters in Port Harcourt that his life had been threatened during the 13 days he was held captive by about 100 striking Nigerian oil workers.

Clearly relieved to be free after being airlifted from the rig, he said: "I've never seen anything like this in 25 years."

There were no physical assaults, but there was psychological torture
Paul Baker

Asked if he had been intimidated by the strikers, Mr Baker replied: "Nothing physical, but they would make threats over the oil installation's public-address system, announcing that if we don't do as they say, we're all going to die.

"There were no physical assaults, but there was psychological torture."

Mr Baker, who was chosen to be one of the first to be released because his wife was pregnant, added: "Everybody is fine onboard, they all just want to go home."

The strike action was called off following talks between the US Transocean oil company, the Nigerian Labour Congress and the oil workers' union.

Mr Baker was among a group of seven hostages to be freed, the others being mainly Nigerians.

Logistical difficulties

Mr Baker, who works for Transocean, said he believed the remaining 364 workers, including 30 Britons and 20 Americans - would be airlifted during the next three days.

He said logistical difficulties were preventing an immediate mass evacuation from the four rigs, which are about 40 miles off Nigeria's southern coast.

The country's offshore industry liaison committee general secretary, Jake Molloy, welcomed the end of the dispute.

He said: "It is a great relief for the families and for the workers who were caught up in this situation that it has now been resolved."

The stand-off began on 19 April when strikers seized rigs in protest at the sacking of five colleagues, one of whom has since died in a road accident.

Diary of a Nigerian oil siege
29 Apr 03  |  Africa
Shell advertises Nigerian woes
28 Apr 03  |  Business

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