Norway oil workers threaten strike, including at leading Sverdrup field

OSLO (Reuters) - Some 324 Norwegian offshore oil workers plan to go on strike from Sept. 30 if annual pay negotiations with employers fail, trade unions Safe, Industri Energi and Lederne said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Johan Sverdrup oilfield in the North Sea, January 7, 2020. Carina Johansen/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS

At Equinor's EQNR.OL Johan Sverdrup field, the largest oil-producing field in Western Europe, 88 workers from Safe and 43 from Lederne would go on strike, including some control-room operators, officials at the two unions told Reuters.

ConocoPhillips's COP.N Ekofisk Lima platform risks a strike among 25 workers, Safe added.

Industri Energi said 168 of its members would strike, including 129 working at the Equinor-operated Snorre, Kvitebjoern, Aasta Hansteen and Kristin fields.

The remaining 39 are service workers employed by ESS at Aker BP's AKERBP.OL Ula and ConocoPhillips's Eldfisk Bravo, Industri Energi said.

Norway pumps more than 4 million barrels of oil equivalents per day (boed), half in the form of crude and other liquids and half from natural gas, making it a major global energy supplier.

Norwegian oil firms and unions failed to reach agreement during preliminary bargaining on Sept. 7 and 8, and will be subject to mandatory state-led mediation on Monday and Tuesday in a bid to prevent a strike.

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It was not immediately clear how much of the country’s output could be cut. Past disputes have typically led to a reduction in overall output of around 10%, with the primary focus on oil rather than gas.

The unions are negotiating on behalf of a combined 7,300 workers, while the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association (NOG) represents oil firms.

The NOG, which speaks for the industry during wage negotiations, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

If Norway’s state-appointed mediator is unable to broker a deal, union members will be eligible to go on strike and the dispute could subsequently be escalated.

Unions have not publicly released details of their demands.

In 2018, a 10-day strike among 1,600 workers led to the shutdown of a field operated by Shell RDSa.L and affected output from several others.

In 2012, the government invoked emergency powers to end a conflict after 16 days when employers threatened a lockout of workers that would have shut down all output of oil and gas.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Writing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Cooney