Small Norwegian Strike 'Could Escalate'
Some 300 oil service workers who belong to Norwegian trade union, Industri Energi, went on strike from 7am local time, September 21.
A smaller union, Safe, is still working but told members not to take on tasks normally performed by strikers. The strike will affect maintenance and development work, rather than ongoing production.
Industri Energi said that its members will walk out at five companies – Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Oceaneering, and Oceaneering Asset Integrity – and that operations involving environmental management of drilling waste will be affected. Some drilling operations offshore will be stopped to prevent discharges into the sea. The union also said it would remove computer engineers who control well monitoring and underwater ‘ROV’ vessels.
Employers group Norsk Olie og Gass called the action “an unnecessary strike”; its CEO Karl Eirik Schjott-Pedersen said it was “totally irresponsible” for the union to strike for higher pay in a year when companies were considering further downsizing and many had already lost their jobs. Talks broke down at 3.30am, after having overrun their midnight deadline, it said.
The union Industri Energi's local leader Ommund Stokka (Photo credit: Industri Energi)
Industri Energi said the action would be initially limited but “could escalate if necessary”. Its local leader Ommund Stokka accused employers of trying to force his members to accept terms agreed by Safe: “Industri Energi cannot accept that a small union, Safe, with 600 members should dictate oil service terms for Industri Energi’s 6000 members.”
There were no reports of significant disruption to Norwegian gas or oil production, but world oil prices firmed slightly both on news of the strike but also on a recent drawdown in US crude oil stocks. A spokesperson for state-run offshore gas grid operator Gassco said the strike has not affected the gas export volumes, but that it was following the situation closely.