Strike Officially Begins at Mongstad

A group of 45 workers at the Statoil-operated Mongstad refinery near Bergen began an official strike at midnight on Monday September 9th. This followed a failure to reach agreement at talks between the Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS) and the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF). Involving members of the Joint Association of Private Employees (Prifo), a YS affiliate, the stoppage could be extended to other Statoil employees if it escalates.

Some progress was made during the negotiations, with several key demands from Prifo being conceded, reports Jostein Gaasemyr, chief negotiator for the group. "We're very disappointed that the new round of talks failed to produce a result," he comments. He feels it is unreasonable that Statoil should be affected by a conflict which appears to be caused by pay conditions in a different company. "A development which brings our personnel out on strike is particularly difficult to understand given that we've reached agreement with the YS in our internal negotiations."

Statoil will strive to maintain deliveries of fuel and heating oil around Norway in the event of a lasting stoppage. The group's fuel depots in the country can supply the market for one to two weeks, and it also intends to import products if necessary. Vessel traffic to and from Mongstad will cease as a result of the strike. Refinery output will also be reduced, and eventually come to a halt when its storage facilities are filled. Shuttle tankers delivering crude oil from Norwegian fields will be re-routed if necessary. Norsk Hydro's Troll B and C platforms in the North Sea are set to continue delivering crude to Mongstad by pipeline until the storage caverns are full.


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