Norway’s oil companies and industry trade unions struck a wage deal this week, averting another strike that could have cost many millions in lost oil revenue.
Reuters reported that the sides had agreed on a wage increase of more than $2,000 for this year.
Norway, normally a country that rarely makes the oil news except with new drilling, regularly makes headlines when the time comes for its oil industry and the trade unions to negotiate wages. On more than one occasion, conflicts have arisen, ending with strikes that take considerable chunks of the country’s oil and gas output offline.
A few months ago, Norway wasn’t able to avert an oil workers’ strike caused by disagreements over a new pay deal for offshore workers. In early October, 8 percent of Norway’s oil and gas production—or 330,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd)—was shut in because of the strike, and there were fears that oil output at Johan Sverdrup may also have to be reduced. The strike ended after ten days and didn’t escalate as much as to cut off nearly 25 percent of Norway’s oil and gas production, as feared.
Two years earlier, another strike shut down a Shell-operated field, taking 1 percent of Norway’s total output of oil and gas offline. While the effect of the strike was minor with regard to production, there were fears it could lead to contract cancellations and have a more extended impact on the industry.
Norway is the biggest oil producer in Western Europe, with an average daily output of some 4 million barrels of oil equivalent. Most of this is gas, but oil production last year increased substantially, by 20 percent, despite the pandemic, as production ramped up at the new Johan Sverdrup field, one of the few recent discoveries that Norway has made in recent years.