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Brent Crude Loadings Could Stop If Workers Go On Strike In Mid-May

Workers at a terminal loading Brent in the UK North Sea, a component of the Brent Crude international benchmark, have overwhelmingly voted for a strike in the middle of May if a pay dispute with the local council is not resolved by then—an industrial action that could stop loadings of the Brent grade.

The tug and towage workers at the Sullom Voe Terminal voted this month to go on a strike in the middle of May if their employer, the Shetland Islands Council, does not recognize that the workers are entitled to a long-service award equivalent to a month’s salary like any other council worker, the trade union Unite Scotland said, Shetland News reports.

As much as 87 percent of the unionized tug and towage workers voted to approve a strike action if their demands are not met.

“Our members in the Shetland Islands Council towage service just want to be treated fairly and the same as any other council employee, and that means they be given the long service award for the same dedication to their jobs,” Unite industrial officer John Boland said.

“We will now prepare to serve strike action notice, but hope that Shetland Island Council will come to their senses and resolve this dispute,” Boland said, as carried by Shetland News.

Unite’s industrial officer told Reuters that if the tug and towage workers stopped work, oil tankers cannot be loaded or unloaded.

In addition, a potential stoppage of oil loadings at tankers could also affect oilfield production because storage space at the Sullom Voe terminal is limited.

“There is limited storage at Sullom Voe, so this could have an impact on production for the Brent and Ninian fields,” Boland told Reuters.

According to estimates from Argus, if the strike goes ahead, it will have a small impact on the supply of Brent in May because just one cargo is scheduled to load in the second half of May.

The three-week maintenance of the Forties Pipeline System (FPS) beginning on May 27 will have a larger impact on North Sea oil supply. The maintenance will see the pipeline shut, while the loadings of the Forties grade, another component of the Brent complex, are set to nearly halve, according to Argus.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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