Brazil is one of the world's important producers of oil and ethanol. It is also the 10th largest energy consumer in the world and the largest in South America. For those reasons many international companies, such as in the offshore platform drilling and workover industry, are investing and branching their operations into the country. Such companies are also helping to bring technological innovation and foster the promotion of high quality standards in the South American oil exploration practices.
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While these companies explore new markets, their need for breaking the barriers of communication translates into more opportunities for language experts. Portuguese is ranked as the sixth most spoken language in the world (next to Bengali) and Brazil's growing participation in the world's international trade is nurturing great interest in its official language.
As a professional translator/interpreter and native speaker of Brazilian Portuguese, I have specialized in the terminology and technical language pertaining to the oil drilling industry. I research and continue to update my knowledge, both in English and Brazilian Portuguese, of the highly technical vocabulary related to directional drilling, oil well intervention, workover and completion, offshore tender assist platform drilling, petroleum and gas engineering, etc. Because of my work as a translator for oil & drilling companies, I have also become familiar with specific HR and HSE terminology and industrial standards, what they mean and how each company organizes and implements their own system. I have translated several documents for large north american companies, encompassing more than 50,000 words in total. In fact, currently, about 50% of my time as an English-Portuguese-English translator is dedicated to working with this kind of terminology.
However, in my experience with oil & gas terminology, I have also seen many translation mistakes made, especially by translators lured into this field by the big dollar signs but who lack the skills and the confidence to nail the challenge. Unfortunately, this takes a huge toll on the end product, the message to the target audience, and consequently harms the client's business.
Often times, this happens because of the way the translation project is approached, especially if the translator is dealing with a pressing deadline. For instance, a possible reason for poor translations of specific vocabulary is that too much time spent researching tough terms causes the translator to loose sight of the message and misinterpret the context. Other times the translator focuses too much on the terminology, ignoring the context completely. Sometimes, even if the term can be found on a technical glossary, the translation into the target language may differ completely depending on context. Contrary to what may seem logical, it is not enough to have some sort of experience in this area. For instance, someone who has worked at a drill rig might not necessarily be a good translator. Typically, professionals arising from the technical fields do not make outstanding linguists as their rationale is often focused on compartmentalization. Linguists must have more than analytical abilities, they must master the skills of contextualization, memorization and localization. In addition to all that, the translator must be able to express themselves fluently and with ease in the target language (which can only be done by someone with native skills) while being highly proficient in the source language, have solid writing skills and be a continuously motivated researcher of their field of specialization. In short, if someone wishes to translate this kind of terminology, they better be self-disciplined and passionate about their trade or else they will be in for much "stick & slip".
A good example of displacement of a term from the source language (English) and cause for huge confusion happened with the terms rig-set and rigging set. Out of context, the first one could be easily confused with the second one. I've seen it happen. Incidentally, the second term is as related to drilling as much as aircraft carriers and drill rigs are alike. Sailors would know that a rigging set is an apparatus for sailboats and sailing ships. But in the context of the oil industry and the text in question the term rig-set was actually referring to the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) set the rig crew wears.
On the brighter side, the oil & gas industry is constantly in advance, being one of the world's top leading industries with significant and indisputable amount of technological innovation. It is a ground breaking force and its operations are invariably of large scale proportions. That is precisely the reason why the oil & gas industry consists in such an interesting field for linguists. The challenges it brings stimulate ongoing curiosity, the drive to learn more and, as a result, further skills and capacity to offer better services to the client. Translators who have enough competence and drive to brave the waters of oil & gas terminology might find it to be an endless stream of inspiration and mutually worthwhile partnership.
A tender rig alongside a TLP.
A tender rig alongside a TLP.