A model offshore rig. (Photo by eschipul.)

Norway, the world’s eighth-largest producer of oil, could cease all production later today. From France24:

Norway is hours away from the first complete shutdown of its oil industry in more than 25 years as the government holds off on breaking up a fight between striking offshore workers and employers, threatening exports from western Europe’s top producer.

The strike by offshore workers over pensions is already in its third week, and a deadline for government intervention ahead of a planned midnight lockout of all offshore staff looms.

“The companies are now ready to close down production on the Norwegian continental shelf if the government doesn’t intervene before midnight,” Eli Ane Nedreskaar, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian oil industry association (OLF), told Reuters.

The sticking point is a request from offshore workers to lower their retirement age to 62. An existing strike has already cut the country’s output by 13 percent.

Given the fact that oil is a pretty lucrative trade, analysts expect the situation to be resolved before a lockout happens. After all, such a move could choke off 2 million barrels of oil a day and remove one key selling point for Norwegian oil: reliability. Also, people don’t buy non-existent oil.

The odds that the situation goes to the other extreme — a permanent cessation of all extraction in Norway that then spreads throughout the world, fostering a new dawn of petroleum-free existence that dramatically improves the health of mankind and the long-term health of the planet — seems unlikely.

Update: Oh well. The government intervened. No cessation.