Oil Workers in Norway Set to Strike

Two Norwegian labor unions warned that approximately 500 workers could go on strike June 17 if a solution isn't reached with employers in ongoing negotiations about additional holiday time. The unions have set a deadline of midnight local time (2200 GMT) June 16 for a resolution.

The strike could affect the Troll A, Jotun A and B, Valhall, and Ula fields in the North Sea, and the companies affected would be Statoil, ExxonMobil Corp. unit Esso Norge AS, BP PLC unit BP Amoco Norge UA, Universal Sodexho, and Prosafe Drilling Services AS.

A Statoil spokeswoman said it was unclear what the consequences of a strike would be on output from the Troll field, which produces around 50 million cubic meters of gas a day. "We hope that during the arbitration, we will see a solution on this issue so that we can avoid a strike on the Norwegian Continental Shelf," spokeswoman Else Katrine Nesmoen said in a statement. "We don't anything about the consequences yet."

The unions say the Troll field produces around half of all of Norway's gas output that and the targeted fields produce more than 30,000 barrels of oil a day. Average daily Norwegian oil production in April was 3.157 million barrels, while average daily production for natural gas liquids was 181,000 barrels, according to latest figures from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. The two unions involved are the Norwegian Oil and Petrochemical Union, or NOPEF, and the Oil Workers Union, or OSF.

However, it is only a portion of the union members that are actually affected by the current talks, unions officials said. "It's around 2,000-3,000 of NOPEF's 17,000 members, and 2,300 of OSF's 5,500 members are affected," OSF President Terje Nustad said. The unions are arguing for more holidays for workers on fixed platforms. At the moment, these workers work two weeks and get three weeks off, and in the following cycle two weeks of work gives four weeks off. The unions want two weeks at work and four weeks off all the time.

"We hope we can reach a solution. The oil companies are fighting against something that will come in any case," Nustad added, referring to the fact that workers on mobile platforms managed to negotiate for two weeks on and four weeks off with employers in talks held last year. The current strike warning covers 260 NOPEF members and 233 OFS.