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Christian Rugland CEO, Bilfinger Middle East

UAE - Energy & Mining

Christian Rugland

CEO, Bilfinger Middle East


Christian Rugland is the CEO of Bilfinger Middle East, in charge of group companies and their operations across the region. Prior to joining Bilfinger, Rugland assumed several other senior management positions during his tenure in Europe. He was also an elected city councilor for eight years and chairman of a premier league football club in Norway. With many years of experience as a senior executive, he has a strong focus on strategic development and has led companies successfully through processes of change, organization development, and improved financial performance. He has a master’s degree in finance.

"The Middle East is important to us. From a portfolio perspective, being in the Middle East offers a different set of risks and opportunities than Europe."
Given the focus on the energy transition in the Middle East, Bilfinger is able to capitalize on its know-how and expertise from around the world to help its customers find the right solutions for them.
What is the importance of the region, specifically the UAE, for Bilfinger’s operations?

In the Middle East and the UAE, we have two business segments: engineering and a larger operations and maintenance segment that performs industrial maintenance. We have been in the region for about 50 years, with 11 offices in eight countries. One interesting fact is that we have about 70% of the same customers now that we had 20 years ago. We have been working predominantly with the larger government companies within utilities, power and oil and gas. The Middle East is important to us. From a portfolio perspective, being in the Middle East offers a different set of risks and opportunities than Europe. We have a large presence in Europe and also have presence in the US that is about the same size as the Middle East. However, the Middle East and our position there offers different types of projects than what we can access in Europe. Thus, it is important from a risk and opportunity perspective, as well as from a portfolio perspective. We were also able to offer competitive rates in the European market for engineering works performed in the Middle East. The region is also important for our international and global clients. We have key accounts where some of the companies present in the Middle East are also in the US or in Europe, and we perform services from here as part of those long-term commitments. That is important because we are then able to service customers with the same scope and international standards. Bilfinger has concepts and technologies that we are able to deploy in the Middle East and then apply back home or in Europe. Those can be maintenance concepts and digitalization projects, from which we gain experience and lessons to further develop internationally.

What is Bilfinger’s stance on the energy transition strategy moving forward?

Bilfinger is involved in all parts of the energy transition value chain. In the Middle East, we do engineering, water desalination, development of infrastructure and transport, as well as district cooling plants based on renewable/green energy sources. Sustainability is an important part of our overall strategy. We shall be net zero or carbon neutral by 2030. We are advanced in our measurement and reporting. We also had our methodology and sustainability performance fully audited to verify our emissions. We aim to bring energy and sustainability measures from Europe to Middle East to help governments and businesses achieving zero emission targets.

How will the role of technology and R&D potentially impact your overall corporate strategy in the medium term?

Bilfinger has relevant data and is well positioned to work with customers to develop and improve technology. We are helping our customers with plant efficiency and maintenance. We engineer for them, while working on emissions from the solutions plant. Some of the technologies also have to be developed by our customers. There are some considerations to look at. One is avoidance, namely avoiding using high-emission fuels. It is about finding and applying alternative energy, which could be renewable. For Bilfinger, it is also about how we can generate sufficient renewable energy ourselves, for example by installing solar panels on our roofs.

What are your main priorities and focuses on the agenda?

First would be to be carbon neutral by 2030. We already started some years ago, but there are still low-threshold initiatives available, such as single-use plastics and lights and temperature controls. Overall, we are also gradually using more electric vehicles (EV) to reduce emissions. We need to work actively with the government to improve EV charging infrastructure and the ease of using it. From a business development perspective, we also pursue solar projects in the UAE and Kuwait together with key customers.



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