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Jens O. Floe

SAUDI ARABIA - Transport

Jens O. Floe

CEO, Red Sea Gateway Terminal

Bio

With over 25 years of experience derived from multiple international assignments within the infrastructure and maritime sector, Jens O. Floe has developed comprehensive expertise in port operations, management, and the successful establishment and leadership of public-private partnerships. Since assuming the leadership of RSGT in 2016, Floe has overseen the signing of a new 30-year concession agreement with the Saudi Ports Authority(Mawani), which calls for the investment of up to USD1.7 billion in infrastructure, equipment, and technology and the expansion of the annual throughput capacity of the facility to nine million TEUs.

"RSGT is supporting that vision and carrying out its international expansion strategy. We will make a major announcement soon about our first concession agreement outside of the KSA."
TBY talks to Jens O. Floe, CEO of Red Sea Gateway Terminal, about economic growth, sustainability, and short-term goals.
Red Sea Gateway Terminal’s (RSGT) vision is to be an engine of economic growth for KSA: can you shed some light on the company and its ambitions?

We are a relatively young Saudi-grown company but have achieved much since beginning operations in 2009. RSGT was the first Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT) concession in Saudi Arabia. We started 14 years ago, and today, we are the largest container terminal operator in Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea. We obtained a new concession in 2020, which doubled the size of our termina, as we took over an adjacent facility. We continue working closely with Mawani and the Saudi government to evaluate other local investment opportunities. We are proud to be a Saudi terminal operator in a space dominated by large international operators. We have built a strong investor group: our largest shareholders include the Saudi Industrial Services Company (SISCO) and MMC of Malaysia, a conglomerate that invests in ports and mining industries. In 2021, demonstrating the confidence of the investment world and maritime industry in RSGT’s growth strategy, the Saudi PIF acquired a 20% share of RSGT, with Hong Kong-based COSCO Shipping Ports, one of the world’s largest global terminal operating companies, acquired another 20% stake. We expect around 20% growth in 2023, and we are looking to expand our role in developing and diversifying the Saudi economy as part of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision program by continuing to invest in port and terminal infrastructure. Our growth plans are very ambitious and will require closer integration into the Global Logistics Chain. RSGT’s strategy for growth includes an international focus. Vision 2030 calls for expanding Saudi participation as a major hub in the Global Logistics Chain. RSGT is supporting that vision and carrying out its international expansion strategy. We will make a major announcement soon about our first concession agreement outside of the KSA.

The shipping and logistics sector is rapidly evolving, with technological advancements, changing market dynamics, and transforming port operations worldwide. How much is RSGT investing in digitalization to optimize and boost the operation of the ports?

RSGT has been investing in the technology, equipment, and infrastructure required of world-class port operators. Most of our Quay Cranes are remote-controlled and automated, and we are rolling out the automation and remote control to the remaining Quay Cranes and Yard Cranes. In addition to increasing efficiency, automation reduces the risk of workplace accidents, as terminal workers and heavy machinery and cargos become more separated. In the area of customer interaction, all processes are now digitalized, and we are offering a more comprehensive range of services.

RSGT emphasizes sustainability and environmental responsibility. Could you share some of the initiatives the company has undertaken to minimize its ecological footprint and contribute to a greener future?

RSGT is transitioning to electric and hybrid terminal equipment, including terminal tractors, Rubber-Tired Gantry (RTG) cranes, and Ship-to-Shore (STS) cranes. Switching to electric and hybrid diesel/battery-powered equipment reduces fuel costs and decreases particulate and greenhouse gas emissions. On the environmental side, RSGT has also allocated USD 1 million to bolster and grow our local Red Sea Coral reefs. One of the projects we have supported is the creation of artificial reefs to foster the growth of local aquatic life and support local commercial and recreational fishing.

What are your main short-term targets?

RSGT’s short-term goals are to continue growing new container volumes from our existing customer base at Jeddah Port while attracting new business from competitors and identifying opportunities for domestic expansion within Saudi Arabia, and international expansion in Africa, Asia, and East and Central Europe. Within the organization, we will continue to recruit and train talented and ambitious individuals, emphasizing diversity, to prepare them for future leadership roles at RSGT and in the Saudi Maritime Industry.

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