Norway oil workers threaten strike action

Some 160 workers in Norway's oil sector will walk off the job on Sunday unless they reach a wage negotiation deal with employers, their union said on Friday, though production would not be affected.

The risk of a strike increased after a special court on Friday rejected the employers organisation's filing that a work stoppage would be illegal.

The Industri Energi union issued a strike warning in a bid to obtain separate wage negotiations for drilling employees, apart from the negotiations
for other oil sector employees.

If the mediation currently underway fails, 159 employees working on two offshore platforms off Norway will stop work on Saturday at midnight (2200 GMT), Industri Energi said.

The strike would only affect drilling on the two installations and would not have an impact on Norway's oil production.

The country is Europe's biggest oil exporter and the world's eighth biggest.

The NHO employers' organisation said meanwhile it sees the stoppage as an extension of a 16-day strike earlier this summer.

The Norwegian government intervened to end that strike just minutes ahead of a threatened lockout, with the two sides ordered to binding arbitration the outcome of which is not yet known.

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Norwegian PM ‘sceptical’ on gas price cap

Norway, which has replaced Russia as Europe's leading supplier of natural gas, said Monday it was 'sceptical' about a gas price cap proposed by a majority of EU members.

Norwegian PM 'sceptical' on gas price cap

“We approach discussions in an open spirit, but we are sceptical of a maximum gas price”, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a statement following a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“A maximum price does not change the fundamental issue that there is a gas shortage in Europe”, he said.

European energy ministers who met Friday in Brussels said they were in favour of a series of measures aimed at combatting soaring gas and electricity prices, with some calling for a cap on the price of gas imports in the EU.

While the European Commission has proposed a price ceiling on gas imported from Russia, several member states, including Italy, called for a price ceiling on all gas bought by EU states, including liquified natural gas (LNG).

Non-EU member Norway, which has benefitted from soaring prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has until now kept a low profile on the issue, preferring instead to leave it up to oil and gas companies to negotiate their own contracts.

The Scandinavian country recently replaced Russia as Europe’s leading gas supplier, due to plunging Russian deliveries and an eight percent increase of its own deliveries.

Last week, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre told the Financial Times that the country would potentially be open to a price cap and long-term gas agreement to help its European partners.

“I fully understand that Europe now has a profound debate about how energy markets work, how they can secure more affordable prices for citizens, families, industries, and how this shortfall of gas after Putin’s aggression can be handled,” Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, told the newspaper.

“Norway is not closing doors to any such discussion,” he added.

However, this weekend he reiterated that it is not the Norwegian government that can directly offer Europe a capped price on gas. He has also moved to clarify that he is open to assessing all the solutions that the EU puts forward, not just price caps and price agreements.

“I tell my European colleagues that it is not me who sells the gas. Licenses are given to companies that pay a high tax, and then they are the ones who sell it,” he told Norwegian newspaper VG this weekend.

READ MORE: What is Norway doing to help ease the European energy crisis?