Norway Oil-Strikes Risk Mounts as More Workers Break Off Talks

Oil-service workers in Norway followed offshore-platform workers in breaking off wage talks with employers, raising the prospect of another strike in the oil and gas industry two years after a walkout hit output.

Two unions representing about 6,000 employees in companies such as Halliburton Co., Schlumberger Ltd. and Baker Hughes Inc. broke off the negotiations today, the last of three days of talks, producer group the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association said in a statement. While the talks are now formally transfered to public mediation, where a failure to reach an agreement could lead to a strike, the group said it still hoped a deal could be reached before that stage.

“It’s very regrettable that we weren’t able to agree on a revised oil-service agreement,” the employer group’s main negotiator, Jan Hodneland, said in the statement. “Meeting the demands would have led to significant changes and higher costs for the companies.”

A strike at oil-service companies, which deliver services and products ranging from well maintenance to engineering, would probably not have a direct impact on Norway’s oil and gas production, western Europe’s biggest, Industry Energy said May 13. Still, it could come on top of another potential strike of offshore-platform workers who broke off a different series of wage talks last week and are also due to meet employers for a final mediation.

The risk of industrial action comes two years after the country’s longest oil-worker strike over a still-unresolved pensions issue. The 2012 action reduced Norway’s production until the government used its power to intervene as companies threatened a staff lockout that would have shut output entirely.

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