OSLO/LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - A strike by Norway's o
ffshore oil and gas workers has begun to slow crude exports, a trading source familiar with the matter said on Monday, as the conflict over pension and retirement rights remained deadlocked for a ninth day.
The delay in loadings of Oseberg crude is the first sign the week-long strike has affected shipments from the world's eighth-largest exporter. Production of oil and natural gas liquids has been cut by about 13 percent of capacity, and some natural gas output has also been affected.
'There has been some impact,' the source said. 'There is a cargo scheduled to load on July 1-3, and it's not loaded yet.'
The strike has provided support to oil prices. Brent futures fell on Monday to a low of $95.30 a barrel and then recouped to $96.18 at 1432 GMT, down $1.62 from Friday's close.
Oseberg is part of the North Sea dated Brent benchmark used as the basis for many of the world's trades.
The government has powers to call an end to the dispute if it believes safety or national interests are at stake. The sector accounts for a fifth of gross domestic product and nearly half of Norway's exports.
'As of now we are still not seeing any reasons for intervening in the strike. We continue to monitor the situation closely,' senior adviser at the Labour ministry Gro Oerset told Reuters.
Unions are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to decide on whether to escalate the strike, a step that would raise the risk of government intervention.
Jan Hodneland, chief negotiator at the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF), said, 'There were no contacts with the labour unions this weekend and we have no plans to contact them today.'
Leif Sande, head of Industri Energi, the largest of the three unions on strike, said the situation remained unchanged from before the weekend.
'Nothing has changed at all,' he said.
Norwegian oil company Statoil said the strike had cut production of oil and natural gas liquids by 230,000 to 250,000 barrels per day and some gas output was affected.
Oseberg crude is loaded at the Sture terminal, near Bergen.
(Additional reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Writing by Terje Solsvik; editing by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Jane Baird) Keywords: NORWAY STRIKE/
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