Norwegian government steps in to end strike by offshore workers

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Oseberg South was among the platforms affected (image from Equinor file)

Posted on July 5, 2022 at 4:34 p.m. by

The Maritime Executive

A labor dispute nearly derailed up to half of Norway’s gas production this week, as the country’s oil companies ramped up production to meet urgent European demand. The Norwegian government intervened on Tuesday to end the strike and order the union back to work, citing the extreme impact the shutdown would have on the energy market.


The strike affected senior executives, managers and technical staff represented by the Lederne union. Last week, these critical offshore workers rejected a 4-4.5% pay rise – a deal that other offshore unions had already accepted – and opted to strike.


Industrial action began on Monday in three fields, Gudrun, Oseberg South and Oseberg East. On Wednesday, he would have expanded to cover Aasta Hansteen, Heidrun, Kristin and Tyrihans. By the end of the week, the strike would have spread to Gullfaks C, Gullfaks A and Sleipner, which will also force closures in Kvitebjoern, Utgard, Sigyn, Gugne and Gina Krog.


On Wednesday, the country’s gas production fell by nearly 300,000 boepd, or about 13%, according to industry association Norwegian Oil and Gas. Oil production reportedly fell by around 130,000 bpd on the same day, restricting supply in an ultra-tight global market. Had the planned deployment been fully realized by the end of the week, it would have absorbed more than half of Norway’s gas production, NOG said. Europe gets around 25% of its gas from Norway’s offshore sector, and with Russia slashing gas exports ahead of the winter heating season, European customers are more dependent than ever on Norwegian supply.


The Norwegian Ministry of Labor intervened on Tuesday to end the strike and Lederne agreed to return to work.


“The announced escalation is critical in the current situation, both with regard to the energy crisis and the geopolitical situation in which we find ourselves with a war in Europe,” said Labor Minister Marte Mjos Persen. “It is unjustifiable to allow gas production to stop to such an extent that this strike over the next few days is expected to result.”


This is the second time in weeks that Persen has been forced to step in and end a labor dispute. A strike by aviation technicians in Norway grounded hundreds of flights in June, and Persen eventually ordered a return to work, citing the danger to healthcare patients who need airlift.

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