By Nerijus Adomaitis
OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian oil workers could end their 10-day strike later on Friday if a set of new proposals from the oil industry proves satisfactory, the head of the Lederne trade union told Reuters.
Oil firms and union officials were meeting on Friday with a state-appointed mediator to try to end the strike, which threatens to cut output from western Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer by some 25%.
The Norwegian Oil and Gas Association (NOG), which is leading negotiations on behalf of companies, was not immediately available for comment.
Six offshore fields shut on Monday and a further seven are scheduled to halt operations in the coming days. The oil and gas outage is set to grow to 966,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) by Oct. 14, according to the NOG.
“We are getting a new proposal from the NOG, and I hope that we can have a deal today,” Lederne leader Audun Ingvartsen told Reuters.
He did not disclose the contents of the proposal, which he said would take some time to review.
Lederne wants to match the pay and conditions of workers at onshore remote control rooms with offshore workers, as well as higher wage rises this year than proposed by oil companies.
Friday’s meeting is the first with the state mediator since the strike was announced on Sept. 30, although informal talks have been taking place.
The strike has helped support oil prices this week, with benchmark Brent crude rising sharply. At 1150 GMT, it was trading down, however, at $43.02.
Gas prices, which also rose earlier in the week, also traded lower.
Norwegian oil workers are among the highest paid in Europe but earn less than those in Australia or North America, a review of the latest available data shows.
If the planned escalation of the strike goes ahead, crude oil and natural gas liquids will account for about 70% of the overall cuts, with natural gas making up almost 30%, a Reuters calculation based on output data showed.
(Graphic: Norway’s gas exports 2019 – https://graphics.reuters.com/NORWAY-OIL/nmopawaaapa/chart.png)
So far, the outage stands at 330,000 boed, with an additional six fields due to fully or partly shut this weekend, including one of ConocoPhillips’ Ekofisk platforms and Wintershall Dea’s Maria oilfield.
Equinor’s Johan Sverdrup oilfield, the North Sea’s largest with an output capacity of up to 470,000 barrels per day, is scheduled to close on Oct. 14. Equinor, Aker BP and Lundin Energy could see a fall in quarterly income per share of 4%-6% if a full outage from Oct. 14 were to last 10 days, brokerage Sparebank 1 Markets said.
(Additional reporting by Nora Buli, writing by Gwladys Fouche and Terje Solsvik; editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)