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North Sea Oil Strike Cuts Production By a Third

May 5, 1996

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ A two-day strike by oil workers has reduced Norway’s North Sea oil production by a third, costing the government $20 million a day.

The strike, which began Saturday, has shut down six offshore oil platforms, oil company officials told the Norwegian news agency, NTB, on Sunday.

Norway is the world’s largest exporter of oil outside OPEC, producing an average of 3 million barrels of oil and 92 million cubic meters of natural gas a day.

Prospects of the strike in Norway fueled a rise in crude oil prices Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Though fluctuations in world oil output can affect U.S. commodity prices, the changes usually aren’t reflected a the gasoline pump for weeks.

Natural gas exports are not affected by the strike, but production could drop if the strike continues.

About 700 offshore platform workers walked off the job Saturday to demonstrate solidarity with maintenance workers, who have been on strike for three weeks.

The maintenance workers seek to be included in a general wage agreement with the Confederation of Business and Industry (NHO), which would give them more leverage with employers.

The strike has split the Federation of Oil Workers Unions, and production workers on two platforms have refused to take part in the strike.

A spokesman for the oil workers, Thomas Skarstein, told The Associated Press that he expects the strike to go on until the confederation meets strikers’ demands. He said the two sides have yet to hold talks.

Gunnar Berge, the Minister of Local Government and Labor, said he is monitoring the situation and has no plans to intervene. But government sources who requested anonymity said the government may take action to halt the strike if it continues.

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