Norway strike action gets go ahead
London, 31 August (Argus) – Drilling workers at two Norwegian North Sea oil and gas fields could strike as soon as tomorrow night after a court ruled in a trade union's favour.
And union officials said the strike could be extended to Oseberg, a field that produces 140,000 b/d of crude. Oseberg's gas production varies but the field is important in shaping Norway's export rates.
Production at the fields would only be affected if the strike were to continue for more than a few days, and the impact would depend on what stage they were at in the drilling of wells, union officials said.
Oil workers union Industri Energi issued the strike threat on 13 July in protest over pay and conditions on behalf of 159 workers at contractor KCA Deutag, which carries out drilling work on a number of fields offshore Norway. All action was postponed over the summer.
At the hearing yesterday, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) argued that the common agreement KCA Deutag workers share with the field operator staff and catering staff should prevent them striking now. A two week strike and OLF's subsequent lockout threat were outlawed in June.
But Leif Sande, president of Industri Energi, argued that “the common agreement was made for practical reasons, not to diminish our right to strike”.
A government-appointed mediator will preside over talks from 1000 local time tomorrow. If no agreement is reached between the OLF and the union, strike action will begin at midnight.
The fields – Ringhorne and Kvitebjorn - are operated respectively by ExxonMobil and state-controlled Statoil.
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