UPDATE 1-Norwegian union in pay talks to avert strike that could hit oil, gas output

(Adds oil price, background)

OSLO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Union officials and energy firms were in talks on Monday to avert a strike this week at Norway’s largest oil terminal that could disrupt production at fields responsible for a third of the country’s crude output and more than 40% of gas exports.

Norway, western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer, pumps about 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude, while gas production amounts to 2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed).

Operator Equinor said on Friday a potential strike over pay by the Safe union would reduce storage and harbour capacity at Mongstad terminal, forcing a shutdown of offshore oilfields which pipe crude to the facility.

This could affect oil and gas output from seven fields, which produced 680,000 bpd of crude and gas output corresponding to about 850,000 boed in November, according to data from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD).

State-controlled Equinor said the action could disrupt production at the major Johan Sverdrup and Troll fields, as well five smaller fields, namely Kvitebjoern, Visund, Byrding, Fram and Valemon.

Safe said last week that wage talks at Mongstad and other plants had failed to result in satisfactory pay increases, with workers at some sites offered no raise.

Details about worker demands made at the talks, which have been held with workers at specific sites and are now being held across the sector, have not been publicised.

The Norwegian Oil and Gas Association (NOG), negotiating on behalf of Equinor and its partners, said it was difficult to see how centralised negotiations would help resolve differences.

“But we hope to find a solution through mediation,” NOG chief negotiator Elisabeth Bratteboe Fenne said in a statement.

Although only a dozen workers are due to strike initially, they are key to loading vessels and handling the ships’ arrivals and departures at the busy Mongstad terminal.

In case of a protracted conflict, a strike could spread to other onshore facilities, with as many as 800 oil and gas workers potentially involved, Safe has said.

Brent crude rose to a 13-month high on Monday.

The government can intervene in strikes if they are seen to harm the national interest but does not normally do so. (Editing by Edmund Blair)