Translation is Key for RFP Writing in the Oil and Gas Industry

cristinaCristina Didone is a corporate advisor at Welocalize. Cristina was the CEO and founder of CD Language Solutions (CDLS), which was acquired by Welocalize in May 2014. Welocalize provides highly specialized language services for the world’s market leaders in oil and gas. Cristina has over 20 years of experience in the language industry and has particular expertise and knowledge about the energy market. In this first blog by Cristina, she talks about the important role of translation in the RFP process within the oil and gas sector.

In the dynamic and ever changing world of the global oil and gas industry, RFP’s play a major role in securing opportunities for multi-billion dollar contracts. Tenders are published in the source language and require translating for the bid team to understand. They then must be translated back into the source language for submittal.

Oil and Gas is a highly competitive landscape and a lot of the top players in the industry are based in Houston, Texas, the epicenter of this mega energy industry. Clients seek translation experts for their tenders from the early stages when they are first published right through to when the RFPs are submitted. The art of translating oil and gas RFPs requires a very specific set of skills and these skills are crucial to a successful bid.

Tenders are published in the source language of the country issuing the tender. For example, for oil exploration in the Sakhalin Islands, the tenders would be written in Russian. The participant bidders would then request translation services from Russian into English to prepare the responses to the RFP. Quite often, the responses are drafted in the target language (English) by their team of engineers, lawyers and technical experts. However, they are then required to be submitted in the source language, in this case being Russian. This exchange of information can take several months or even over a year until the final bidder is awarded the contract.

Language service providers play a key role in the RFP process. In order to prepare for a successful partnership and deliver services that help the client win multi-billion dollar contracts, there are some best practices that can be followed:

  • Meet with the client at the earliest stage to discuss particulars on the RFP that may impact translation. Consider translation and localization from the start.
  • Know what country is your target audience. For example, while Spanish is a universal language spoken by many countries, there are terms in oil and gas which are localized by country and some audiences are more susceptible than others of keeping their own local terminology.
  • Companies develop their own technology and they may have coined their own terms of preference as company-specific language. Create a list of acronyms for the project; these may often be found in the “Definition” section of the RFP. This section can become the translator’s best friend as it may contain several acronyms with corresponding definitions as well as many other terms.
  • Gain access to the existing Most companies do not have a bilingual glossary but they may have a very comprehensive monolingual glossary which can serve as basis to build the bilingual resources.
  • Establish who will be the in-company reviewer for translation work and if possible, open up the dialog and communicate as soon as possible. Creating a strong relationship and flow of communication between the reviewers and the translation team is essential. The team will work more efficiently and it will help reduce time between editing and revisions.
  • Create an interactive portal for clients to be able to monitor the progress of files, retrieve gradual deliveries and upload files. As the RFP process can be very long, often with cumbersome exchange of files, access to a portal is critical.
  • Finally, translation memory (TM) plays a key role in the success of RFP translations. Selecting the proper tool to implement TM can be the determining factor in the overall success of the project. The selected TM tool allows for all translators in the team to use the same terminology on all sections of the RFP and over the extended period of time as the files are gradually delivered and subject to numerous revisions. Proper TM will also reduce the amount of time to market as certain portions may be repetitive from one round of the tender to the other and overtime, it will become paramount to keep terminology consistent.


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