Offshore strike hits nine oil platforms

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The large labour organization representing offshore oil platform workers, Safe, failed to come to terms over pensions with the organization representing oil platform- and shipowner, Rederiforbundet. The union therefore called 669 of its members working on nine rigs out on strike during the night.

The drilling rig Songa Enabler is among offshore oil installations hit by the strike called during the night. It also has been a target of environmental activists protesting oil exploration in the Arctic. PHOTO: Greenpeace

News bureau NTB reported that negotiations extended for more than an hour after the midnight strike deadline. Safe leader Marit Rysst said platform workers were securing the platforms as they otherwise stopped working.

The strike can quickly affect drilling projects and production of oil and gas in the North Sea, since the nine platforms targeted will be mostly shut down until a settlement is reached and operations crank up again. The 669 workers called out on strike Tuesday also represent just the first wave of the labour demonstration, with another 901 Safe members on more rigs due to be called out from Sunday.

That will occur if the two sides fail to settle a dispute that involves what Safe considers a weakening of their current pension agreement, which is widely viewed as generous. “We couldn’t meet Safe’s demands during mediation,” Jakob Korsgaard, chief executive of Maersk Drilling Norge. He claimed the demands made by the offshore workers are “completely unreasonable” when compared with those agreed by other groups within the business and in other sectors of Norwegian industry.

Platforms affected by the strike so far include Snorre B, Innovator, Askeladden, West Elara, Deep Sea Stavanger, Songa Enabler, Petrojarl Knarr, Transocean Spitsbergen and Cost Innovator. The strike has pulled 117 workers off their jobs on the Transaocean Spitsbergen alone.

Newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported that another 350 platform workers who are not members of Safe were temporarily laid off because of the strike. Companies affected by the striking workers, and represented by Rederiforbundet, include Baker Hughes, Schlumberger and Halliburton.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund