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Is Norway The New France? Planned Offshore Oil Strikes Could Hit Shell Hard

As oil investment in Norway is projected to drop again in 2017 for the third year in a row as low oil prices hammer the industry, the specter of a massive offshore workers’ strike looms large.

Talks with Wood Group over pay and working conditions have broken down, after failure to reach an agreement when the energy services company proposed pay cuts of 22-30 percent.

The Unite union is now balloting hundreds of workers for a strike vote for a strike that would affect eight North Sea oil and gas platforms run by Royal Dutch Shell.

Related: Why Chevron Invests $37B In The World’s ‘’Most Difficult Oil’’

Media quoted Unite officer John Boland as saying: “Nobody here wants to take industrial action but Wood Group is being unreasonable – pay cuts of up to 30 per cent are totally unjustified and we won’t stand for it.”

This comes as oil companies in Norway are expected to spend only US$18.5 billion next year, down 7.6 percent expected this year, according to Statistics Norway, which noted that the “fall is dominated by decreases within exploration, field development and fields on stream”.

While it does show a slowdown in the rate of growth, keeping in mind that investment for 2016 had dropped 14.8 percent, the situation has also led to a marked increase in labor disputes in the country.

Related: Wave Of Profit-Taking Keeps Oil From Breaking Out

Labor disputes have tripled since oil prices began to slump in mid-2014, according to Energy Voice, citing Norwegian media reports.

In the meantime, Russian Gazprom is said to be considering acquiring a stake in OMV Norway in connection to a swap agreement signed by Gazprom’s Norwegian subsidiary and OMV in April. If talks lead to a deal, OMV would have acquire one development share in two Siberian blocks in the Urengoyskoye gas field, while OMV would transfer some Norwegian assets to Gazprom.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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