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July 16, 2018

Norwegian offshore workers extend strike

A further 900 Norwegian oil and gas offshore workers have joined the 700 already on strike in an escalating dispute over pay and pensions between employers and the Safe workers union.

By Scarlett Evans

A further 900 Norwegian oil and gas offshore workers have joined the 700 already on strike in an escalating dispute over pay and pensions between employers and the Safe workers union.

Those joining the protest work on exploration and production drilling rigs owned by companies including Saipem, Transocean, Songa Offshore, Odfjell Drilling, Archer and COSL. It will take some time for the strike’s extension to become fully effective due to the necessity of following safe shutdown procedures first.

The strike was initiated last Tuesday following employers’ lack of response over demands for higher wages and pension benefits. Since the beginning of the strike, there has been no contact between Safe and employers and to date there are no plans to initiate talks on a potential compromise.

Safe has said it is considering widening the strike to include all of its 2,250 members, with a decision expected over the next few days. The workers not yet on strike have not thus far been included as they work on rigs that drill production wells, rather than platforms involved in oil and gas production.

Represented by the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, the employers released a statement today saying the union ‘lacked understanding of the economic reality of the Norwegian continental shelf’.

Lead negotiator Jacob Korsgaard said it is ’utterly incomprehensible that Safe is willing to put at risk jobs, the shelf’s attractiveness and competitiveness, and Norway’s reputation as a safe and stable supplier of oil and gas resources’.

Speaking of when the strike is anticipated to end, Korsgaard told Reuters: “A conflict like this cannot go on forever. All counter-measures are considered.”

 As it stands, it is the largest strike the country’s sector has seen since 2012, when a 16-day industrial action strike took place, leading to a dip in Norway’s crude output of 13%  and natural gas production of 4%.

The current strike is not yet expected to have an immediate impact on oil or gas production, with energy company Equinor saying it does not anticipate its output to be affected ‘in the short term’, though spokesperson Eskil Eriksen did say there will be delays to drilling and well operations.

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