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.

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“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.