GDF Field In North Sea At Risk Of Norwegian Strike


OSLO, May 19 (Reuters) – Norwegian oil and gas wage talks will go to a state mediator on June 16-17 and if negotiations break down, unions plan to strike at a key GDF Suez field in an addition to ExxonMobil platforms already named, a labour union said on Monday.

Under Norwegian labour law, unions have to specify how many people and at what facilities would stop work in case of a strike. They usually provide such a list before mediation and start labour action immediately in case negotiations break down.

The Lederne union said that 76 workers would walk out at GDF's Gjoea field, which produced about 24,000 barrels of oil per day in 2013, if no wage and pension deal is reached.

GDF Suez Norge was not immediately available to comment.

The SAFE union, part of the same talks, earlier said that 190 workers at ExxonMobil's Ringhorne and Balder fields would initially strike but labour action could then be ramped up if their demands are not met.

The GDF and ExxonMobil fields at risk of a strike produced about 66,000 barrels of oil per day in 2013, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said earlier.

Talks between oil firms and two key unions broke down this month, raising the risk of a strike similar to that in 2012, when a 16-day strike across Norway's oil sector cut production by 13 percent and pushed oil prices above $100 a barrel.

The main contention has been pensions for just a few dozen workers. Unions want a lower retirement age for the workers, similar to others enjoyed by others in the sector.

"We fear that an increase in the retirement age could spill over to other companies and we are unhappy if the pension conditions of workers is further degraded," Lederne leader Jan Olav Brekke said. "Several offshore firms want to raise the retirement age ... which is unacceptable."

In addition to oil workers, oil service workers, who do everything from drilling to maintenance, are also heading for mediation after wage talks broke down last week. However, no date for that has yet been set.

 (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi, editing by David Evans)


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