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Norway oil workers go on strike, output at risk if conflict extends

OSLO, Sept 21 More than 300 Norwegian oil service workers will go on strike on Wednesday after wage talks broke down, hitting operations of five large subcontractors to the country's oil and gas industry, the Industri Energi trade union said.

The conflict will force oil firms to halt drilling of some wells on Norway's continental shelf and may later hit output from western Europe's top crude and gas producer, the union and companies said in advance of the talks.

Negotiating on behalf of 6,500 members at around 30 companies, Industri Energi could escalate the conflict in the coming days and weeks unless a deal is found.

A total of 335 workers at Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Oceaneering and Oceaneering Asset Integrity were part of the initial round.

The striking employees work as engineers, operators of remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) or in the handling of the waste coming out of drilling operations, Industri Energi has said.

Oil firms argue that the industry can ill afford to increase costs at a time when crude prices have plunged some 60 percent in the last two years, and said restraint would be required to preserve jobs during the downturn.

State-controlled Statoil is Norway's largest oil firm. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Camilla Knudsen)

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