Full shutdown looms

June 21, 2000, 10:15 CEST

Work will begin early on 24 June to shut in several hundred Statoil production wells off Norway unless the country's current offshore dispute is resolved.

All Norwegian offshore production is set to cease four days after the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) declared a lockout on 19 June covering all members of the Federation of Norwegian Offshore Worker Trade Unions (OFS) and the Norwegian Association of Supervisors.

"The wells will be left in a safe condition," says Henrik Carlsen, executive vice president for Exploration & Production Norway.

"We won't be starting new sections which can't be completed in a secure manner before 24 June."

As the wells are shut in, operators can start sending personnel ashore. Mr Carlsen expects crew to begin returning from Statoil's installations during the first shut-down day.

How long it will take to get everyone back to land remains unclear. Roughly 500 people are staying on the group's facilities to look after safety.

"We'll try to find alternative jobs for people sent ashore who aren't in the OLF or the supervisors' association," says Mr Carlsen.

He believes Statoil's land-based plants at Tjeldbergodden in mid-Norway, Kollsnes near Bergen and Kårstø north of Stavanger will start to feel the effects of the lockout early next week.