Bloomberg News

Norway Oil Industry Group Says Talks Fail to End Strike

July 08, 2012

Norway’s oil strike continued for a 15th day after talks supervised by a state mediator failed to reach a compromise that would prevent the dispute from escalating to include all of the country’s offshore oil and gas production.

“There are no new talks planned and we don’t know where we will go from here,” Kristin Bremer Nebben, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Oil Industry Association, which represents employers including Statoil ASA (STL), BP Plc (BP/) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM:US), said in a phone interview today.

The association, known as OLF, and labor unions met yesterday at 5 p.m. in Oslo after Norway’s government encouraged new talks in an attempt to end a strike that threatens to halt output from western Europe’s largest crude exporter. After 13 hours, the two sides hadn’t reached a solution, OLF and the unions said today.

The industry group has threatened to stop output from midnight tomorrow in a dispute over pensions. The move is intended to force the government to end the dispute as it did in 1997, 2000 and 2004, Teodor Sveen Nilsen, an analyst at Swedbank AB (SWEDA) in Oslo, has said.

SAFE and Industri Energi, two unions representing the workers, said the government shouldn’t order compulsory arbitration to end the dispute.

Fair Outcome

“The employers must take responsibility for this conflict,” Hilde-Marit Rysst and Leif Sande, the chiefs of the two unions, said in a joint statement today. “The most appropriate and fair outcome is that the oil companies must accept the consequences of their own stupidity when they announce a full lockout.”

Norway’s Labor Ministry declined to say if the government would force the groups to find a solution.

“As usual, the ministry follows the situation continuously,” Morten Dagre, a spokesman for the ministry, said by mobile phone today.

About 15 percent of Norway’s oil production and 7 percent of the gas production is affected by the strike, costing the government and companies 2.7 billion kroner ($440 million) in the last l5 days, according to OLF. The strike is disrupting as much as 250,000 barrels of oil output a day, according to Statoil, Norway’s largest energy company.

Carl Petter Martinsen, the state mediator, said yesterday during a break from the talks that two sides were far apart and in a deadlock.

“The mediator found no basis for the submission of a proposal because of the large gap that existed between the parties,” Martinsen’s office said today in a statement.

The dispute, which began on June 24, is the first industrywide strike by energy workers since 2004 and the longest, according to the SAFE union.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christian Wienberg in Copenhagen at cwienberg@bloomberg.net; Josiane Kremer in Brussels at jkremer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dick Schumacher at dschumacher@bloomberg.net


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