Increasing Localization Efficiency in the Oil and Gas Industry


Falling oil prices are impacting many energy producers and exporters revenues, resulting in the energy market to look for ways to economize their globalization efforts. According to The Economist, 18 March, 2015, the price of oil is falling “…mostly because of increased supply from America (up by 4M barrels a day since 2009).”  They also note increased supply in America’s domestic production is mainly due to changes in policy and the emergence of new techniques such as fracking. The decrease in demand by the US for oil produced on world markets, lower oil prices and potentially lower profits requires many energy companies to look for ways to increase operational efficiency in more ways than one. This includes their localization and translation strategies.

How does the recent drop in oil prices affect the way the language service providers’ work with the energy companies and those involved in the supply chain? An experienced language service provider (LSP) will help energy companies streamline their localization strategies for all types of content through more effective and efficient workflows, language technologies and program management.

Localization and translation is an integral part of the oil and gas supply chain and it comes as no surprise that margins for translation are being squeezed. Here are some quick examples of how to achieve efficiency in your localization strategy:

  1. Market Expertise. Considerable content generated in the energy industry is focused on compliance regulations, health and safety, technical and legal documentation. However you go about oil extraction and production, if you have to meet various compliance regulations in certain geographies, you have no choice but to make sure content is translated accurately into the appropriate languages to meet local government requirements.  Utilizing an industry-experienced provider can help increase speed and reliability of translation quality by knowing your market terminology and practices, having experience in international regulatory requirements and providing vetted linguists in both industry and content types.
  2. Compliance and Training Expertise. If health and safety training is conducted on oil rigs to an international workforce, then you have to make sure all training materials are communicated in the native language and fully understood by the workforce and when required, provide qualified interpreters to deliver the training programs.  This type of high impact content requires specialized language services that can assure quality and speed are aligned to the purpose, even in the current situation of falling oil prices. For example, increasing efficiency in this area may include utilizing text-to-speech versus voice-over to minimize eLearning localization costs and increase turn-around speed for producing vital multilingual training materials.
  3. What Not to Translate. Certain content types may remain in the source language. Similar to the IT industry, certain phrases and terminology are globally accepted in English; therefore, companies can afford to “not translate,” leaving content in the source language. Work with your provider to look at types of content that may stay in the native language for certain geographies. As an example, English videos are more widely accepted in some Nordic regions; whereas they must be subtitled include voice-over in other parts of the world or a viewer will not watch it. What is known is that for high impact content like regulatory, legal, safety and compliance, translation must remain an integral part of the overall international business strategy to achieve the best business outcomes and mitigate risk.
  4. Work as a Team. A global LSP that specializes in oil and gas localization and translation, like Welocalize, should be relied upon as a trusted adviser and consultant. Providing expert resources and sharing best practices for the translation life cycle should be expected from any experienced and qualified energy sector LSP. This experience can help companies navigate the best service options to continue to translate the high impact content as well as low impact content, and even increase translation volumes with greater efficiency. Ask your provider, how can you help me achieve my goals based on today’s market conditions?
  5. Localization Needs a Program Strategy. Viewing translation as part of the overall long-term business strategy will ensure companies benefits from economies of scale rather than conducting the procurement of translation in a transactional way. Investing for the long-term can reap multiple benefits in terms of costs, time and quality. Look at your localization projects as a program and strategize with your LSP to define an optimal workflow and process to manage your projects over time.
  6. Language Technology and Automation Matters. LSP’s can also ensure that translation tools like translation memory, glossaries and terminology management play an integral part of the localization strategy so clients can benefit from lower costs as a result of repeated, regular and similar translations.  Efficiency can also be realized through machine translation (MT) for content that is defined as low to medium impact. Companies frequently look at MT for online help content, user-generated content and some forms of technical documentation. Use of innovative translation technology can also help streamline the translation process. By working with one main supplier, instead of emailing and transferring translation files via FTP, implementing a translation management system (TMS), like Welocalize’s open source technology, GlobalSight, can improve communications, increase speed, quality and significantly reduce the amount of human touch points.
  7. Resource Management.Keeping a team of consistent, expert linguists focused ensures that translations are conducted quickly, with little time and money wasted on lengthy review processes. Due to repeated familiarity with content, translators, interpreters and linguists can apply their subject matter expertise to deliver quality results within budget and timescales.

Companies seeking to lower or maintain margins need not sacrifice volume or quality of translation and localization of their global content. They simply need to partner and consult with the right LSP and partner together to maximize the efficiency of their localization strategy to match current economic climates.  Whether you are in the oil and gas industry or just looking to make your localization process more efficient, the best practices outlined in this blog are ways to get started in achieving your market-defining goals.

Louise, Louise Law is Global Communications at Welocalize

Further Reading:

Energy Company Requirements for a Localization Partner

Three Localization Trends in the Oil and Gas Industry

Welocalize Industry Solutions for Oil and Gas