Parties in Norwegian Oil Strike to Meet Wednesday

Representatives of Norwegian unions and oil companies will meet Wednesday to try to end an 11-day-old strike that has cut the country's output of oil by 15% and natural gas by 7% and cost companies a total of 2 billion Norwegian kroner ($335 million) so far.

The meeting between the three striking offshore unions--Energi Industri, Safe and Lederne--and the Oil Industry Association, which represents oil companies in centralized wage negotiations will take place at 1300 GMT. A mediator from the National Mediator, the entity handling failed negotiations and conflicts, will also be present.

"We hope that the Oil Industry Association has brought something to the negotiating table, because it won't be a problem for us to continue this strike," said Hilde-Marit Rysst, leader at Safe.

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

"The only way to reach a solution is if the unions drop their claim for early pensions, otherwise there is no agreement," said Kjetil Hjertvik, head of information at the Oil Industry Association.

The company most affected by the strike is Norwegian oil giant Statoil ASA. It is operator of the Heidrun and Oseberg fields, as well as the Brage, Veslefrikk and Huldra fields, all of which have been shut. Statoil is also the biggest owner of the BP PLC-operated Skarv field, which may face delays to its planned fourth-quarter start of production.  


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