Offshore Oil Worker Strike Averted in Norway

Norwegian offshore oil workers and employers reached an agreement early Monday, averting a strike by about 500 union members that could have shut down a significant part of Norway's natural gas production.

Two key unions accepted a 4.7% wage raise and an agreement to let oil workers seek a new two-week on and four-week off rotation system. Oil workers spend two weeks at sea, working 12-hour days, and then having extended time off on land. The 18,000-member Norwegian oil and petrochemical union NOPEF and the 5,500-member Norwegian Federation of Oil Unions, threatened a strike over the vacation issue.

The strike could have cut output by 150,000 barrels of oil a day, as well as 50 million standard cubic meters of gas, with a total estimated value of around 80 million kroner a day, officials from the employers' organization OLF said last week. The threatened strike would have affected the Troll A, Jotun A and B, Valhall, and Ula fields in the North Sea, and the companies affected would have been Statoil, ExxonMobil Corp. unit Esso Norge AS, BP unit BP Amoco Norge UA, Universal Sodexho, and Prosafe Drilling Services AS.

The compromise allows members in each company to separately negotiate there so-called 2/4 rotation with their employers by an October 1 deadline. The current rotation is two weeks on, three off, two on, and then four off.