Baker Hughes' Norwegian Workers 'Prepared to Strike for Years'
by Jon Mainwaring
Monday, June 11, 2012
Workers are prepared to strike "for years" in the latest industrial action to affect Norway's energy industry, according to Norwegian energy sector union SAFE.
The strike, said the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF), involves up to 114 Baker Hughes workers on 12 different installations. At least five oil and gas rigs will be shut due to the strike, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
The action could also delay the scheduled drilling of production and exploration wells for a number of oil companies, which include Statoil, Marathon Oil, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Suncor Energy, Centrica and Eni.
Rigs affected by the strike include Songa Trym (mid-water semisub)
, Stena Don (mid-water semisub)
, Songa Dee (mid-water semisub)
, Oseberg C
, Oseberg Ost
, Gulfaks C, Transcocean Winner (mid-water semisub)
, West Alpha (mid-water semisub)
, Songa Delta (mid-water semisub)
, West Navigator (DW drillship)
and Scarabeo 8 (UDW semisub)
, according to the Oil Industry Association.
However, the strike will not begin in earnest until controlled shutdowns of operations are completed in a safe manner. For example, a controlled shutdown of operations at Oseberg Ost is not expected to be completed until June 25.
The dispute has come out of a merger completed at the start of February between Baker Hughes Norway, BJ Services and BJ Process & Pipeline Services, which saw employees of the two latter companies transferred to Baker Hughes Norway.
The SAFE union accuses Baker Hughes of financing its acquisition of these businesses by reducing workers' benefits.
On Monday, SAFE Vice Chairman Roy Alexandersen said that his union is prepared for a prolonged strike at Baker Hughes.
"We can strike for weeks, months and years if necessary," he said in a statement.
In response, Håvard Hauan, a lawyer for OLF, said: "The new collective agreement with SAFE could under no circumstances be more lucrative than the existing agreement with the other union, Industri Energi. We are surprised that the union did not understand that."
The strike action is just the latest industrial dispute to hit Norway's energy industry. Two weeks ago, members of the Industri Energi union within the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate – the body that oversees the Norwegian oil and gas industry – took part in a strike in connection with wage settlements in the state sector, although they returned to work on June 4.
Meanwhile, the latest action comes ahead of a potential larger strike in Norway's export oil sector. To prevent this, the country's National Mediator has set a June 23 deadline for this year's wage settlement between unions and the oil industry after negotiations failed over Statoil's ending of an early pensions deal. Any resultant strike could shut down most of Norway's daily production of 3.8 million barrels of oil equivalent, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Kjetil Malkenes Hovland of Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this article
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