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Bilfinger takes new direction to maximise regional opportunities

Mar 17, 2020
5 min read
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President and CEO of Bilfinger Middle East, Jon Rokk, speaks to Pipeline Oil and Gas News’ Nadia Saleem about the way forward for the engineering and maintenance company.

Jon Rokk, who has over 6 years’ experience in the region and over 20 years’ experience in Bilfinger’s core industries of oil & gas and chemicals & petrochemicals, took over as President and CEO of Bilfinger Middle East in the summer of 2019 and has since been working to streamline operations in the region to maximise potential opportunities.

Bilfinger has two distinct service lines, engineering and maintenance, along with technologies that support both lines of business. Around 1,400 engineers are based in the region to power its engineering services, with the bulk being based out of Oman and the UAE. Bilfinger in the Middle East also provides maintenance for assets in the utilities, power, water as well as the oil and gas sectors.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Egypt Petroleum Show 2020 in Cairo, Rokk detailed the new direction the company will be taking to grow its business in the region.

“We’re seeing great demand for high-level expertise from an engineering perspective in petrochemicals, especially in Egypt. Our German origins are 150 years old, and we’ve been in the Middle East (Kuwait) since 1968 – we have that rich heritage level of expertise, which is also proven, so we can offer value added services that our customers need,” Rokk said, pointing at one obvious growth opportunity.

In addition, the company is looking to build its strength in size as well as to leverage offshore expertise from European experience. “In the UAE for example, we are yet to develop the scale a company like Bilfinger can offer, so we have unexplored opportunities to tap into, such as the Ruwais complex which will allow us to broaden our footprint,” Rokk explained.

Meanwhile, Bilfinger has been strong in the maintenance business in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, but is looking to branch out into the oil and gas sector, which presents several opportunities.

“Because the installed base and facilities are growing up and getting older, this opens up many problems that Bilfinger can solve. This is where we come in to offer efficient and cost-effective solutions with our value-add services and technology,” Rokk said.  

Additionally, Bilfinger is looking to bring to the region its expertise in turnarounds and shutdowns. In Europe, the company is among the top to deliver on time and on cost. “Many of our clients are asking us directly, when Bilfinger is going to get into doing Turnarounds? This is exciting opportunity and tells me that great untapped potential and customers are beginning to see the real value in long term relationships and partnerships,” Rokk added.

Last year, Bilfinger won multiple engineering contracts from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), which entail the provision of front-end engineering design (FEED) for onshore facilities. Serving as one example of the company’s recent success, Bilfinger has plans to grow the stream of contract awards.

“In recent years, we’ve always grown – now there is an opportunity to grow faster but in a controlled way. We can scale up more quickly than before because we are pushing the ‘One Bilfinger Way’. This is different from how the business worked in silos earlier. If you channel the energy to deliver a more-focused operation that will allow us to grow more successfully. Partly, it’s about tapping into the core skill set that we have – we bring ideas, skill set and technology from Europe.” Rokk said.

Bilfinger is operating in a market that is challenged by several factors, stretching from lower commodity prices, a greater push from clients for better performance yet at lower costs, as well as from rising competition in the area of digitalisation.

To address these challenges, Rokk said: “You have to keep innovating, because you can’t just deliver what your competitor is delivering. Our DNA encourages change and innovation and we welcome those ideas that make a difference.” That goes hand in hand with Bilfinger’s significant efforts in digitalisation solutions and that is one way to stay ahead of competition, according to Rokk.

“Digitalisation is a buzz word but it’s about making use of data in a way that can add value to the asset owner. We’re going to our clients and running pilots to show them what we can do because we have faith and proven successes with our technology and solutions. Clients will never stop wanting more for less, but we have to figure out how to deliver solutions faster and cheaper and in a better way,” he added.

“Implementing Bilfinger’s strategy for 2020+ in the Middle East, I’m going to make sure that I help all our people to drive growth and deliver success.  It’s a really exciting time for us,” he added.

This interview first appeared in the March issue

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