Statoil drops Norwegian
Statoil recently sent a letter to its largest suppliers, including Mongstad. It informs that all the contracts in the future will be made in English, and that from now on, all invoices will be submitted in English.
The reason is that you will save money. “In order to reduce the costs of maintaining the use of two parallel languages in Norway, Statoil has an ambition to increase the use of English language”, says the letter.
A number of companies responding that a Norwegian public company will not use the Norwegian language with their Norwegian suppliers.
“I do not think much about it. We live now in Norway, and I think it is unnecessary to take this over suppliers. We’re so big in Norway that they should have two language system if they absolutely must have it in English too,” says Øystein Hope, Managing Director.
He fears that there may be linguistic misunderstandings.
Why should we put ourselves into the English language to get it correct? Sometimes invoices need explanation, and then there’s cause misunderstandings. It will not offer great difficulties, but we had a system that worked,” says Hope.
“Of course it’s stupid that we need to use foreign languages, but Statoil is part of an international company and we have to work with, ” says Erlend Make Devik, general manager of Tess Vest AS.
The company, headquartered in Kokstad, supplies hoses and welding products. Tess has already a number of international customers, and language transition will not be so great.
“It will create some extra work for us, but a big problem is not. But I see that some small businesses will have greater challenges,” said Do Devik.
Others believe English use is unproblematic.
“We have foreign customers as well, so to issue invoices in English is everyday for us and do not imply problems. I would think Statoil has good reasons in terms of efficiency,” says Jan Dypedal, general manager of Mongstad Elektro, Industry and Energy AS.
Statoil gain by it
In his explanation shows the group that the company increasingly becomes a more global company.
“Since our business is largely in the oil industry, it is natural that we use English in many contexts. By collecting the invoices in one language, we hope for cost savings,” says Lars Bjelvin, Vice President Communication, Projects and Procurement.
He points out that most Norwegian suppliers they work with are also active internationally.
“It is therefore natural for us to encourage the use of English, although we acknowledge that this may be unnatural for some.”
“We realize that there will be invoices in Norwegian in the future, but our ambition is to increase the proportion of English,” said Bjelvin.
Small business fee
Dag F. Simonsen, a senior adviser in the Norwegian Language Council, is very critical of the group’s new practice.
“It seems very strange, and it is fully understandable if there are reactions from the companies.”
Simonsen pointed out that smaller companies do not necessarily have good English skills.
“Statoil pushes thus extra costs onto their suppliers. There may be a financial challenge for small businesses,” said Simonsen.
“Statoil as state-owned companies should be the last that went to such steps,” he said.