Norwegian Oil Strike Talks Still Locked

Talks between the parties in the Norwegian oil strike over the weekend haven't resulted in a solution of the conflict, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association told Dow Jones Newswires Monday.

"Positions are completely locked," said Eli Ane Nedreskar, head of information at the Oil Industry Association.

Unions have pushed for an early pensions agreement to be included in the collective bargaining, but the Oil Industry Association, which represents oil companies in centralized wage negotiations, has said that discussion doesn't belong those talks.

The three striking offshore unions Industri Energi, Safe and Lederne decided Friday to avoid stepping up the strike, which has already cut 15% of Norway's oil output and 7% of its natural-gas output--or 230,000 to 250,000 barrels of oil and 11.9 million cubic meters of natural gas a day, according to the Oil Industry Association.

A new meeting between the unions on whether to step up measures is, according to union Safe, scheduled for 0900 GMT Tuesday.

"We have no scheduled meetings with the employer side so far, but we expect to hear from them shortly seeing as there are such large amount of money at stake," said Hilde-Marit Rysst, leader at Safe.

The shuttering of production on the Norwegian continental shelf could add upwards pressure to the oil price--benchmark Brent last month fell below $90 a barrel, from around $130 in March, as the European Union's embargo July 1st deadline on Iranian oil approached.

If the unions and oil companies manage to reach an agreement, oil and gas production on shut-down fields such as Oseberg and Heidrun could resume in one or two days, according to the country's giant producer Statoil ASA.


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