Oil price soars as Norway faces a shutdown

Brent crude headed past $100 a barrel yesterday as oil markets braced for a total shutdown in Norwegian oil production.

Although analysts expected a last-minute intervention by the government to prevent a lock-out of striking offshore workers, the state-controlled producer Statoil said it was preparing to shut down all its production from midnight last night. The closure could take up to four days.

Norwegian offshore workers have been on strike for the past three weeks. They are demanding the right to retire at 62, in a move that has raised some eyebrows in a country that already pays the world's highest oil and gas salaries. Offshore workers work 16 weeks a year.

A full shutdown would be the first in Norway for more than 25 years and would cut off more than 2 million barrels of oil and gas a day.

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