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17

Norway Oil Strike To Cut 375 000 Bpd

Norway oil strike widens to 375,000 bpd

A five-day strike by Norwegian oil workers widened to cut 375,000 barrels per day (bpd) off Norway?s three million bpd output on Tuesday as the government urged unions and companies to break the deadlock.

"We are monitoring the situation closely," Labour and Social Affairs Minister Dagfinn Hoybraaten, who oversees strikes, told Reuters. "We expect the parties to take their responsibilities with the utmost seriousness."

He has said that Oslo has no plans to invoke emergency laws to order workers back to offshore platforms to end the strike by about 200 workers over pension rights and union demands for tighter restrictions on temporary labour.

The 60,000 bpd Ekofisk Bravo platform in the North Sea closed overnight, adding to 315,000 bpd already cut by the strike for the world?s number three exporter behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.

"We shut down about midnight," ConocoPhillips spokesman Ingvar Solberg said of the halt at Ekofisk Bravo. He said the strike also halted injection of 425,000 bpd of water from the Ekofisk K platform into the subsea reservoir to keep up pressure and force out oil across the Ekofisk field, where overall production is usually 350,000 bpd. Solberg said it was not clear how far the lack of water injection might brake output.

The strike began on Friday and closed Statoil?s 240,000 bpd Snorre field and the related 75,000 bpd Vigdis field on Saturday.

Exxon Mobil says that its 80,000 bpd Ringhorne field is likely to close late on Wednesday, raising the impact of the strike to 455,000 bpd. Both the Federation of Oil Workers? Trade Unions (OFS) and the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) employers? group said that there were no contacts to try to resolve the strike. "It?s hard to say what the next move will be," OFS leader Terje Nustad told Reuters. He has said that the union would consider a further widening of the strike and was prepared for a long-running dispute.

Oil is the backbone of the Norwegian economy, accounting for about 20 per cent of gross domestic product, and previous governments have often ordered workers back to platforms when strikes halt all or a large share of output.

Hoybraaten has said the government would not intervene to halt the strike "given its current extent". Asked if he might change his mind if the strike widened, he said: "I don?t want to speculate about that".

And he noted that "in recent years there has been general restraint in using this tool (of mandatory arbitration) That?s important because it?s the parties who are responsible for this."