Tuesday, August 4, 2009

French to English: Petroleum Industry, Part 1


Today we start a three-part series on the petroleum industry.  You've watched movies that trace the evolution of petroleum in different countries, most of them moving sagas of how brawn and muscle dug into the deep to help transform countries into revered oil giants.

Historians who devote their research and writing exclusively on the petroleum industry have much fodder to nibble on, feverishly churning out tales, legends, real life stories and controversies.  As their pens scurry to separate fact from fiction, the oil wells continue to "belch out"  because energy - often called a nation's backbone - has to be produced continuously to satisfy world demand.  The tons and barrels of this commodity fuel the imagination of man, turning humble citizens into bold entrepreneurs who'll do whatever it takes to be able to strike the exact spot on the ground that will set forth a towering inferno.

When you look at the petroleum industry, you need to decide which perspective to take, because it is as vast as the oil fields in which they thrive.  Will you be studying it from the perspective of the movers and shakers, meaning the oil manufacturers who dictate how much to export or import, will you be looking at the different petroleum products in the market - how they're explored, manufactured and then refined for the buying public or will you be looking at the processes only, or the various technologies that have taken their rightful place in oil and gas exploration?

Yes, there are different ways of looking at the petroleum industry, and there are five segments based on the categories set by the American Petroleum Institute:

  • upstream - this relates to the exploration and processing of crude oil and natural gas;
  • downstream - this relates to the tankers, refineries, retailers and consumers - basically the refining and marketing side of it
  • pipelines
  • marine
  • service and supply  

petroleum2 The web site of the American Petroleum Institute is a good place to start if you're looking for a well-organised overview of the  fundamentals.  There's also a section on training and certification for those who are seriously considering a petroleum career:  http://www.api.org/certifications/.

Our first set of petroleum terms:



or noir black gold
pétrole brut crude oil
sables bitumineaux oil sands
installations de forage pétrolier offshore oil rigs
consommation pétrolière oil consumption
extraction pétrolière et gazière gas and oil extraction
mètre cube cubic metre
barils barrels
réserves pétrolières oil reserves
brut classique conventional crude
approvisionnements insuffisants supply shortages
prix en plein essor soaring prices
OPEP (Organisation des pays exportateurs de pétrole) OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
plates-formes de forage en mer offshore platforms
raffinerie refinery

We'll be back for Part 2 in a few days.  In the meantime, a much needed vacation - it'll be a short and sweet one. 

For my vacation, I managed to exchange my Air Miles reward points for three Shell gas cards!

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