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2022-07-05 17:30:09

Europe's energy woes escalated Tuesday as Norwegian oil and gas workers went on strike, shutting three fields in the North Sea and causing a spike in natural gas prices.

Norway's state-owned energy company Equinor said it had shut the fields after some of its employees went on strike over a pay dispute.

The three fields produce the equivalent of about 89,000 barrels of oil a day, more than 30% of which is natural gas, Equinor said in a statement.

Norway was the second largest source of natural gas to Europe last year, after only Russia, according to Eurostat data. The disruption comes at a critical moment for the region.

Europe is trying to reduce its reliance on Russia's exports, which are already being curtailed by Moscow. Any sustained drop in Norway's output could deal a big blow to efforts to replenish gas stocks ahead of the winter, as well as raise the risk of a catastrophic energy shortage.

Germany, the region's biggest economy, has already declared a "gas crisis" and warned it can't rule out introducing rationing to get through the winter.

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