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Production was due to shut down from midnight.

But Norway’s government has stepped in at the last minute, ordering a settlement in a row between striking energy workers and employers.

It used emergency powers to avert a ‘lockout’ of staff by companies hoping to put an end to 16 days of industrial action.

Some 700 offshore workers have been on strike in a dispute over pay and pensions that has already hit oil production and gas output. Norway’s oil industry puts the cost at some 414 million euros.

The government can legally force strikers back to work. It has done so in the past to protect a sector on which much of the national economy depends.

The next step in this dispute is compulsory arbitration.

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