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UPDATE 1-Norwegian oil companies seek mediation after wage talks break down

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OSLO, May 9 (Reuters) - Wage talks between Norwegian oil firms and their employees broke down on Thursday, setting the stage for mediation later this year in order to prevent a strike, Norwegian Oil and Gas (NOG) said in a statement on Thursday.

While Norway's collective bargaining rules prevent the two largest unions involved in the talks from going on strike this year, the smaller of the three, representing close to 1,000 workers, has the right to do so if no deal is ultimately reached.

NOG is an industry organisation that is negotiating on behalf of the country's oil firms, including top producer Equinor.

No date for the mediation talks has been set.

If Norway's state-appointed mediator is unable to broker a deal, the Norwegian Organisation of Managers and Executives (Lederne) labour union will be eligible to go on strike.

The union was not immediately available for comment.

Norway is western Europe's largest producer of crude and natural gas, and even a limited strike could impact the country's output.

The Norwegian Union of Industry and Energy Workers (Industri Energi) and the Norwegian Union of Energy Workers (Safe), representing about 6,000 workers, do not have the right to go on strike this year. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik; editing by Christian Schmollinger)