SHARE
COPY LINK

OIL

Oil lockout looms large as strike talks fail

A costly shutdown in oil output in Norway, Western Europe's top producer, looks set to go ahead next week after talks between striking workers and employers failed, the employers' group OLF said on Sunday.

"After thirteen hours of mediation with the ombudsman, he did not find a basis to present a written proposal he thought the parties could accept," said OLF in a statement.

"The strike is now on day 15, and the costs are 2.9 billion kroner ($474 billion)."

Norwegian Employment Minister Hanne Bjurstrøm called for a second round of negotiations to take place, OLF said.

The lockout was announced by the energy industry Friday in response to a strike by more than 700 North Sea oil workers over pensions.

According to OLF, the strike, which started on June 24th, has led to losses worth tens of millions of euros a day.

State-owned energy company Statoil had said the lockout would start on Monday at 2200 GMT and "will halt all production" on Norway's continental shelf, where about 50 companies operate, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

The lockout would mean 6,515 workers covered by offshore pay agreements would not be permitted to enter their workplaces as of Tuesday, OLF said.   

Statoil said it expected a shortfall in production of around 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, costing 520 million kroner (€69.3 million) per day.

The dispute centres on employers cutting a pension add-on introduced in 1998 for workers 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 unions have branded the lockout "cowardly" and insisted their demands are legitimate but their employers say pensions are more than fair.

"Oil company employees have an average annual income of one million kroner and a retirement age of 65," said Jan Hodneland, OLF's chief negotiator.

"This already makes them Norway's pension winners. They've nevertheless opted to use their power to win even better terms."

Norway is the world's eighth largest oil exporter and second largest gas exporter. In 2004, the last strike of oil workers in Norway lasted one week.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

OIL

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.

SHOW COMMENTS