Oil & Gas Workforce: Lost in Translation

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Rig Writer

When doing my industry research for a Health, Safety, Security and Environment conference we are running in April, it appeared that over 80 percent of the Oil & Gas workforce in the region are expatriates.

Apart from the initial culture shock and cultural barriers, this obviously causes language barriers. In addition, this technical jargon often varies from company to company and country to country. Therefore some Oil & Gas companies are investing in projects to identify the different cultures in the organization and create a common language.

Having a workforce of over 80 percent expatriates was a revelation to me especially being an expatriate myself in the Middle East. I work in an office with predominantly native English speakers and find myself regularly "lost in translation"; this happens in the safe office environment where language barriers are easy to overcome. In the high risk environment of Oil & Gas operations a series of small misunderstandings can lead to catastrophic accidents, and in order to safeguard the workforce they need to be prevented. That is why I wonder, what would be the best way forward to overcome this language barrier in the Oil & Gas industry and enhance communication in the industry?

By Sandra Hijnen

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