OSLO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Around 360 Norwegian oil services workers from five companies will go on strike if wage and benefits negotiations fail, just two months after a production workers strike shut part of the country’s oil and gas industry.
“If a strike happens, construction and exploration is most likely to be hit, not production,” Arild Theimann, a spokesman for Norway’s largest oil workers union, Industri Energi, said on Tuesday.
“Oil service workers have assignments on all kinds of installations, so it is hard to tell which installations are going to be affected in the event of a strike,” he said.
Offshore production workers shut around 13 percent of Norway’s oil output in a 16-day strike in July, and only returned to work after the government broke up the labour action when companies threatened a full lock out.
Norway is the world’s eight biggest oil exporter and Europe’s second biggest gas supplier, and many saw the strike as a threat to the country’s reputation as a safe energy supplier.
The possible services worker strike would include employees of Halliburton (120), Schlumberger (120), Weatherford (65), Subsea 7 (35) and Oceaneering (20).
Wage negotiations between the union and employees broke down last month and talks will now continue with the help of a state mediator at an unspecified date.
Unions earlier said that if a strike happened, it could not come before the second half of September given the pace of the negotiations process.
As part of the mediation, unions have to declare how any workers would take part in the initial phase of the strike.
Norwegian oil workers are the best paid in the world, earning $180,000 on average, but continue to demand a bigger share of Norway’s economic success amid Europe’s economic slowdown.
The Norwegian economy grew by an annual 5 percent in the second quarter, the fastest in Europe. Unemployment is 3 percent and the country has no debt and no budget deficit.