Oil prices pushed higher yesterday as a strike by workers and a planned lockout by companies threatened to shut completely Norway’s crude oil production, countering weak data from Japan that also hemmed in equities prices. Weaker than expected Chinese inflation data and a report showing Japan’s machinery orders fell at a record pace in May weighed on equities and curbed oil, although expectations that China may do more monetary easing to stimulate growth were supportive for oil. Negotiations on Sunday between Norway’s oil workers and employers over pay and pensions could not resolve the dispute, raising the spectre of the first complete shutdown of Norway’s oil industry in more than 25 years. The strike, in its third week, has cut oil output from Norway, western Europe’s top producer, by 13% and affected crude shipments. Brent August crude rose $1.36 to $99.55 a barrel by 1632 GMT, near the $99.60 intraday peak. US August crude was up $1.20 at $85.65 a barrel, after trading from $84 to $85.79. With Norway’s crude production facing a shutdown, Iran continues to try to circumvent sanctions on its crude exports imposed by the US and Europe to pressure Tehran to halt its nuclear programme. An official said on Saturday that Iran, Opec’s second-largest producer, had reached agreements with European refiners to sell some of its oil through a private consortium. from gulf times.