Wage talks involving thousands of Norwegian oil drilling workers broke down on Thursday, unions and employers said, raising the risk of a strike that could disrupt oil and gas exploration and efforts to boost output from existing fields.
The talks between the Norwegian Shipowners' Association (NSA) and three labor unions will now move to arbitration led by a state-appointed mediator. The dispute could end in a strike if those negotiations fail.
Any industrial action would most likely have only a marginal impact on the production of oil and gas in the short term, but could have a greater impact in the medium to long term as expansion projects and the start-up of new oil fields would be delayed.
Companies performing drilling services on behalf of oil firms in Norwegian waters include Transocean, Saipem, Odfjell Drilling, Maersk Drilling, Archer, Seadrill, and others.
The Safe, Industri Energi, and DSO unions, representing workers on mobile offshore units and platform drilling on permanent installations, asked for the settlement to be brought before a state-appointed mediator, the Safe union said.
Under Norway's tightly regulated collective bargaining system, unions are only eligible to declare a strike if the mediation also fails.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche)