Norway rig owners consider lockout to try to break strike
* Rig owners weigh option of lockout
* Move could force state to try to impose solution
* Mediator warns too early to say if dispute can be settled
(Adds comments from Norwegian Shipowners' Association)
By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
OSLO, July 19 (Reuters) - Owners of Norwegian oil rigs are
considering imposing a lockout on workers as a high-stakes
gamble to try to end a strike by almost 1,600 staff that began
A lockout would involve preventing staff from accessing
installations until a deal is struck. It could prompt the
government to try to impose a settlement and send workers back
to the rigs.
"Yes, a lockout is an option, it is on the daily agenda ...
And options are limited," Jakob Korsgaard, chief negotiator for
the Norwegian Shipowners Association, told Reuters.
He declined to say what the alternatives were and when the
shipowners expected to decide their next move. In addition to
the near 1,600 workers on strike, another 1,500 staff are on
leave as rigs had to be shut.
A state-appointed mediator is talking to rig owners and the
Norwegian union to try to resolve the strike but he warned that
it was too early to say if the dispute could be settled.
Norway's Safe union on Monday escalated a strike it began on
July 10 over pay and pensions and plans further action that
could affect a vessel's operations in Britain. The impact on
Norway's oil production has been limited so far.
Safe and the shipowners have not talked directly to each
other since the strike began over demands for a wage increase
and pension rights.
"A solution depends on the parties being willing to give
something to each other... I have some contacts with them but if
we are closer to a solution, I can't say for the time being,"
mediator Carl Petter Martinsen told Reuters.
Safe informed the mediator that it is planning to slightly
expand its strike action by taking a further 30 employees away
The strike extension would affect, among other vessels, the
Island Constructor, a well intervention ship owned by Island
Offshore that is currently working at Premier Oil's
Huntington field in the British North Sea, the vessel's owner
"It is working to enhance production in the field. The
strike will interrupt the operations," said Island Offshore
managing director Haavard Ulstein.
The field's production will not be affected. Ulstein said a
prolonged strike could cancel a contract Island Constructor has
with another oil firm after its work at Huntington.
"It is definitely a worry for us," he said, declining to
give details of that contract.
Earlier this week more drillers, including Odfjell Drilling
, warned that if the strike lasts a month or more, it
could lead to termination of drilling contracts in Norway.
(Editing by Keith Weir)
First Published: 2018-07-19 12:09:53
Updated 2018-07-19 15:48:43
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