Norway Invites Mediator For Oil Industry Union Talks

Wage talks in Norway failed to reach an amicable conclusion on Thursday, prompting the government to summon a mediator to prevent oil industry-wide strikes in the nation, according to a report by Reuters.

Norway – western Europe’s largest crude producer – has been in negotiations with labor unions over working conditions in the country’s fossil sector over the past week. There is an April 7 deadline for the government and unions to reach an agreement on pensions and a slew of other issues.

Norwegian oil production is unlikely to be affected by the talks, which are expected to be fruitful by the deadline. Rig workers’ contracts are valid through June, but unions could still shut down drilling yards and supplier facilities if the disputes linger. Onshore processing and export facilities for natural gas production are particularly at risk for disruptions, but offshore workers have mostly opted out of the union movement. If the strikes do take place over an extended period of time, offshore workers could join in.

Labor union negotiator Asle Reime spoke to Reuters last week. “We’ve understood that there is no real will among employers to compromise from the outset,” Reime said. “Pension rights are important to all workers regardless of which industry they are in, that’s why I think there is more weight behind the demands this year and also more willingness to strike.”

The world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund—Norway’s $1 trillion Government Pension Fund Global —expects large value fluctuations ahead, as it will rely more on the stock market value and less on income from Norwegian oil production, Yngve Slyngstad, CEO of the fund’s manager Norges Bank Investment Management, said last month.

“We have to expect significant swings in coming years,” Yngve Slyngstad said at a news conference in Oslo for presenting the fund’s 2017 report and results. “We have to expect value swings of more than 900 billion crowns ($115 billion),” Slyngstad said, as carried by Reuters.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com