Norway's government said Tuesday it was referring a dispute between oil and gas workers and employers to an independent board, after an industry group warned strikes could cut Norway's gas exports by more than half.
The move, which effectively ends the stoppage, comes after workers walked out of their jobs on Tuesday, leading to the closure of three fields and the union announced more workers would strike later in the week.
"The announced escalation is critical in today's situation, both with regards to the energy crisis and the geopolitical situation we are in with a war in Europe," Labour Minister Marte Mjos Persen said in a statement.
Under Norwegian legislation, the government can force parties in a labour dispute to a wage board which will decide on the matter.
Earlier on Tuesday, industry group the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, warned that with the announced escalation of the strike announced for Saturday would slash output.
It said 56 percent of total gas exports from the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) would be cut, together with a production loss of 341,000 barrels of oil a day.
- 'A very tight market' -
"It is unjustifiable to allow gas production to stop to such an extent that this strike in the next few days is estimated to lead to," Persen said.
Earlier Tuesday Norwegian energy giant Equinor said it had shut down production at three oil and gas fields after oil workers walked out following failed wage negotiations, and warned that more closures were expected.
The strike came at a time when energy prices have fluctuated as a result of the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and associated sanctions.
"Norwegian deliveries account for a quarter of European energy supplies, and Europe is entirely dependent on Norway delivering as a nation at a time when Russian supply cuts have created a very tight market for natural gas," the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association.
"A strike on this scale poses huge problems for countries which are wholly dependent on filling up their gas stores ahead of the autumn and winter," it added.
Workers walked out after members of the Lederne union voted no to a proposal brought by mediators during wage negotiations.
According to the government, the parties had said "that they will end the strike so that everyone can return to work as soon as possible".
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