Norway's top oil drilling union agrees wage deal, smaller union undecided

OSLO (Reuters) - The largest labor union representing workers on Norwegian offshore oil drilling rigs has agreed to a new wage deal, it said on Friday, while a smaller union said it would ask its members to decide whether to accept the deal.

Industri Energi, which represents more than 4,000 drilling workers, said in a statement the deal would give a “solid increase” in pay, averting a strike among its members that could have hit exploration efforts later this year.

The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, representing rig owners, said a deal had also been signed with the smaller Safe union.

The Safe union later said the pay rise was smaller than it had hoped for, however, and that it would ask its members to vote by June 22 on whether to approve or reject the deal.

Before any strike is allowed under Norwegian law, a mandatory round of talks must be held under the leadership of a state-appointed mediator.

Companies drilling on behalf of oil firms in Norwegian waters include Transocean, Fred. Olsen Energy, Odfjell Drilling, Rowan Companies, Maersk Drilling and Seadrill.

Oil companies, including Equinor, Eni, Aker BP and Lundin Petroleum rent rigs to search for hydrocarbon reserves off Norway.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche