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Oil exploration in the Norwegian continental shelf has slumped by close to a third amid the oil price rout, according to oil and gas research firm Westwood.
The news is not a surprise at a time when all oil and gas companies--even the supermajors--are cutting spending and delaying or canceling new exploration projects.
For Norway, exploration is particularly important because most of its production comes from mature fields with only a few new discoveries ensuring the sustainability of the oil and gas industry.
On top of these trends, some oil workers are unhappy with their employers again: After weeks of annual pay negotiations between oil workers’ unions and the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, most of the unions have accepted what oil employers were offering, but one of the smaller unions, Lederne, has refused the new pay terms.
Last week, 43 members of the Lederne union went on strike at the Johan Sverdrup field—one of the new discoveries—and the union warned the industrial action could escalate this week. Such an escalation was last week expected to shut down four fields operated by Equinor and remove up to 8 percent of Norway’s oil output, or 330,000 bpd.
The latest reports on the strike confirm the shutdown of the four Equinor fields. Two more, operated by Neptune Energy and Wintershall Dea, may follow, according to the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, which said that “There is no solution in sight” for the compensation dispute. Production at Johan Sverdrup, which is Norway’s largest producing field, has not been affected.
Norway has been pumping an average of 1.8 million bpd of crude oil, but this changed earlier this year when OPEC+ called on other producers to throw their weight behind its output-cut effort. Norway said it would cut its production by 250,000 bpd in June alone and then maintain a 134,000-bpd cut until the end of the year.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com