Oil workers’ strike costs ‘$33 million a day’

A 10-day strike by more than 700 North Sea oil workers in Norway over pensions has led to production losses worth tens of millions of dollars per day, the employers' organisation OLF said on Tuesday.

"The strike is having quite a big impact…. Its impact on production is 10 percent of oil production and seven percent of gas production," Eli Ane Nedreskår, a spokeswoman for the the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) said.

"It costs 200 million kroner (33.4 million dollars) a day," she said.

The stoppage of oil and gas production at Statoil's Oseberg and Heidrun fields in the North Sea has led to "a daily loss of some 240,000 barrels of oil and 11.9 million standard cubic metres of gas," Nedreskår said.

The strike began after talks broke down over employers' refusal to change a decision to cut a pension add-on for employees who retire at 62, three years ahead of the general age for oil workers and five years ahead of Norway's official retirement age, the SAFE and Industri Energi unions said.

The two sides were in contact over the weekend but no progress was made in the talks, Nedreskår said, adding that she hoped "the strike would be as short as possible."

The strike involves employees of Norwegian oil group Statoil, British oil giant BP's Norwegian division and ESS Support Services, which is owned by the British Compass Group.

Statoil is the only company affected by production stoppages.

The previous oil workers' strike in Norway took place in 2004 and lasted one week.

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NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration

Two NGOs and six young climate activists have decided to take Norway to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to demand the cancellation of oil permits in the Arctic, Greenpeace announced on Tuesday.

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration
Northern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

It’s the latest turn in a legal tussle between environmental organisations Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth Norway on one side and the Norwegian state on the other.

The organisations are demanding the government cancel 10 oil exploration licenses in the Barents Sea awarded in 2016, arguing it was unconstitutional.

Referring to the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the organisations claim that the oil licenses violated article 112 of Norway’s constitution, guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy environment.”

The six activists, alongside Greenpeace Nordic and Young Friends of the Earth Norway, hope that the European Court of Human Rights will hear their case and find that Norway’s oil expansion is in breach of human rights,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

In December, Norway’s Supreme Court rejected the claim brought by the organisations, their third successive legal defeat.

READ MORE: Norway sees oil in its future despite IEA’s warnings 

While most of the judges on the court agreed that article 112 could be invoked if the state failed to meet its climate and environmental obligations– they did not think it was applicable in this case.

The court also held that the granting of oil permits was not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, in part because they did not represent “a real and immediate risk” to life and physical integrity.

“The young activists and the environmental organisations argue that this judgment was flawed, as it discounted the significance of their environmental constitutional rights and did not take into account an accurate assessment of the consequences of climate change for the coming generations,” Greenpeace said.

On Friday, the Norwegian government unveiled a white paper on the country’s energy future, which still includes oil exploration despite a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA recently warned that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Norwegian case is an example of a global trend in which climate activists are increasingly turning to courts to pursue their agenda.