Oslo — Owners of floating offshore oil drilling rigs on Wednesday began a final round of wage talks with three Norwegian labour unions in a bid to prevent the outbreak of strike action that could disrupt exploration, but not production, negotiators said.
Some 1,644 workers on 12 rigs and drilling vessels operating in Norwegian waters plan to strike on Thursday for an indefinite period if the state-led mediation fails, and could be joined by more members in the near future, the labour unions have said.
Union officials have said they do not expect a strike to disrupt the current production of oil and gas but that it could impact ongoing maintenance and the startup of output from new fields, thus causing future delays.
Norway is western Europe’s largest oil producing nation and the biggest supplier of natural gas to Europe.
The negotiations between the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and the Industri Energi, Safe and DSO labour unions comprise 7,500 workers, all of whom could ultimately join the strike action unless a deal is found.
Safe, Industri Energi and DSO are negotiating on behalf of workers on mobile offshore units as well as some platform drilling crews on permanent installations.
The companies that would be hit by a strike on Thursday are subcontractors to oil and gas producers, including Transocean, Seadrill, Saipem, Odfjell Drilling and Archer.
Under Norway’s tightly regulated collective bargaining system, unions must give four days’ notice before any additional workers are permitted to join the strike.
Norwegian petroleum production workers, who are directly employed by companies such as Equinor and Conoco Phillips, reached a wage agreement last month, preventing strikes that could have hit output from major oil and gas fields.
Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Nora Buli and Louise Heavens – Reuters
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