In 2008, the most highly publicized privatized mergers occurred between SUEZ and Gaz de France (Mergent Online, 2018). This union culminated into the largest energy conglomerate in Europe with the name Engie (Engie, 2015, Para. 1). Although, Engie’s roots were originally in natural gas, they expanded into various energy sectors in the power supply chain allowing them to manage and control all aspects of the value chain to include purchasing, extracting, producing and selling natural gas liquids along with electricity, energy systems, industrial applications of energy components (Mergent Online, 2018). In addition, Engie operates in over 70 countries globally and serves over 23 million people worldwide. Engie currently owns a majority stake in over 60 subsidiary firms that were acquired through aggressive vertical integration tactics over the course of many years. The affiliate firms, located all over the world provide Engie a huge global presence through downstream and midstream business activities with expanding and enhancing energy and gas infrastructures, creating and implementing innovative energy technologies and solutions, and distribution while marketing renewable and traditional energy categories. By implementing this long-term vertical integration strategy (Pearce, 1982, p. 25-26), Engie has been able to expand into different foreign markets and has evolved from a minor player in Europe’s leading power to a major producer and liquified natural gas (LNG) importer totaling over 75 million dollars in corporate profits worldwide (Engie, 2018, para 2).
Despite Engie’s diversity in the marketplace, competition is fierce among rivals in this commodities-based industry. The following report will provide a comprehensive competitive analysis utilizing the key strategic management tools to convey Engie’s competitive advantage by presenting its current market position and external environment. The subsequent investigation was conducted utilizing a PESTLE analysis which evaluates a firm’s opportunities and threats that impact an organization through political, economic, social, technology, legal and environmental forces (Athanasios ; George, 2013, p. 5023). Another area of concentration will utilize Michael Porters 5 force model which identifies certain influences with the ability to directly affect Engie’s profitably including competitors, key stakeholders and outside players (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 88). This report will also present significant opportunities and threats discovered in a SWOT matrix. An External Factor Evaluation (EFE) will also assess the outside elements associated with the firm’s current market environment (Maxi-Pedia, 2017, para. 1) along with a competitive profile matrix (CPM) that will provide data on the strengths and weaknesses of key competitors in the international energy sector.
The natural gas (NG) industry is a robust and highly competitive marketplace due to deregulation and infrastructure improvements in transportation via pipelines throughout North America and the European Union (EU). This is particularly true in the United States after Congress passed the Gas Deregulation Act in 1978 (Jeong, Lowry, Miller ; Sened, 2014, p. 430). With recent discoveries of shale gas, experts suggest that the usage of this energy source will continue to grow approximately 24% over the next twenty years (Burke ; Yang, 2016, p. 466) triggering even more companies to enter the marketplace. The United States is currently the world’s leading producer of NG, with total production reaching 766.2 billion cubic meters in 2015 (CIA, 2018). However, Russia is right behind the United States and their production accounts for approximately 40% of all gas imports into the EU (Czajkowski, 2018, Chart 1). Since, NG is a clean energy source it is used in many everyday applications such as cooking, heating, transportation, electricity production and industrial chemical production (Borozan & Star?evi?, 2013, p. 245). This creates a natural fluctuation of the supply and demand (Reymond, 2007, p. 4169). As a result, firms respond with additional exploration, increased extraction and production output. Indeed, this additional concentration requires extensive research, capital obligations and additional time to create and sustain the infrastructure, generating price volatility in the marketplace. Within the natural gas domain there are many industrial companies capitalizing on this growing commodity and operating in various sectors throughout the energy value chain. This includes the components of extraction, production, transmission and distribution to end users. However, before further examination can be conducted, the outer environment must be identified, breaking down the eternal elements and evaluating the conditions that firms exist in.
The PESTLE analysis provides a powerful look at external factors that influence a firm’s strategic plan by analyzing the political, economic, social environment, technological aspects, legal and ecological factors. Engie, based out of France and currently part of the European Union (EU) must face political factors being enforced by the EU to aggressively reduce carbon emissions by 2020 (Karmellos Kopidou ; Diakoulaki, 2016, p. 680). Due to the size of the energy industry and economic power this sector presents, there is also the threat of trade regulations and tariffs that Engie must contend with. Political instability in many foreign nations can affect nations dependent on imports from countries who control a large portion of the world’s oil reserves. The decentralization and decarbonization of the EU gas market has placed additional pressure on firms to reduce production capacities and find alternative sources of energy. This has forced countries that traditionally consume large quantities of NG and other energy sources to become more dependent on imports which directly threatens the energy industry in Europe (Oleh, Liliya & Oleksandra, 2017, p. 24). Government regulations can also affect the economic stability of foreign nations when they implement policies endorsing firms to research and develop additional energy sources to increase competition in the marketplace (Bongsuk & Cui, 2018, p. 2).
The global economy too plays a crucial role in the competitiveness of the energy industry as interest and inflation rates can affect the profitability of commodities (Wang, Liu, Niu, Liu & Yao, 2018, p. 85). When nations experience economic declines, the price for energy increases and creates a significant imbalance in the supply and demand. However, when economic conditions are favorable, global consumption increases and firms seek out additional sources of profitability through research and development in conventional and alternative energy sources (Wang, Liu, Niu, Liu & Yao, 2018, p. 91).
Social factors can also impact the success of power companies. Recent generational shifts and attitudes concerning eco-friendly environments, sustainability and clean energy have placed additional pressure on firms to seek out ways to reduce their carbon footprint (Paço & Lavrador, 2017, p. 385). As the population continues to grow and more areas become urbanized, the demand for energy to sustain technologies and “smart” innovations will increase consumption rates in the long run (Lei, Keran, & Xu, 2018, p.1). As a result, this will help stimulate profits in the energy marketplace but can also be a source of attractiveness for new firms to enter the industry.
To support the deregulation of energy consumption and sustainability, Engie must support existing infrastructures and streamline production and business processes by conducting research and developing innovative energy-saving technologies to provide the firm with a competitive advantage (Lei, Keran, & Xu, 2018, p.11). Other factors to consider are innovative advancements in “next-generation technologies” that can provide more efficient extraction processes, proficient energy conversion, creative storage facilities and enhanced renewable energy applications such as shale gas extraction (Pallant, Pryputniewicz & Lee, 2017, p. 63) and solar power innovations utilizing concentrated solar power capabilities (Craig, Brent & Dinter, 2017, p.17). These technological advancements provide additional profitability opportunities.
Environmental factors impact how Engie operates in the energy sector environment (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 84). changes in climate and weather conditions can impact various components of the energy supply chain. For example, major climatic events such as hurricanes and blizzards produce variables effecting the extraction, production, transmission and distribution of energy sources threatening productivity. Heightened concerns about pollution puts pressure on governments to enforce clean-energy policies and regulations. Decarbonization offers Engie an opportunity to expand their portfolio by shifting to renewable energy sources and becoming less reliant on depleting fossil fuels.
The last segment of the PESTLE analysis entails legal implications that arise from business activities. This includes labor and employment laws such as workers compensation, minimum wage compensation, discrimination laws and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Although Engie is a global company, and many of these regulations are not enforceable for many of their subsidiaries. The firm does enforce its code of conduct initiative requiring employees to conduct themselves in a certain manner (Engie, 2018). However, Engie does place a priority on protecting the ownership of their intellectual property as well as patented innovative technologies. Preserving their intellectual property provides Engie an opportunity to create a strategic resource (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 104) and placing patents on their inventions grants Engie exclusive rights other firms cannot replicate.
Partial SWOT of Opportunities and Threats
Emerging economies and untapped markets Natural gas is a nonrenewable depleting fossil fuel
Increasing global energy demands Commodity price volatility
Raw material scarcity Unconventional extraction methods increase prices
Declining coal-based energy consumption Fluctuating economic conditions in foreign nations
Natural gas is 2nd largest energy source in the United States (U.S. Department of Energy, 2018) Fierce competition in the global marketplace
Decentralization of energy Capital requirements for operations, infrastructure, entrance into immature markets and essential technologies
Expansion into renewable energy sources such as solar power, geothermal, wind, biomass energy and hydroelectric. Increasing foreign tariffs and tax laws (Haines, 2017, par 1.)
Shale gas extraction in developing nations Global government regulations towards pollution and global warming concerns
Mergers and acquisition of subsidiaries provides international presence and revenue growth Foreign currency volatility
Favorable currency exchange rates in North America Increased energy demand for emerging technologies may not be able to keep up with need
Increased global collaboration and partnerships in new markets Deregulation
There are several observed opportunities and threats generated from conducting the external environment analysis matrix.
According to the 2017 International Energy Outlook created by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), worldwide energy consumption will increase approximately 28% over the next twenty-five years. The projected growth to focus on third-world nations such as Africa countries where the economies have begun to boom (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2018, p. 2). Growth may be attributed from the shift of power as a service industry to a manufacturing nation. This puts more demand on energy sources due to power needs and further non-commercial applications (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2018, p. 2). In addition, emerging economies, such as India and China embody populations that are presently outgrowing other nations. According to the 2018 International Energy Outlook India info-graphic chart, consumption rates for India will intensify greatly and bypass China in the next 10-20 years. Therefore, Engie may seize the opportunity to export energy to these nations as they will need to rely on outside energy sources to sustain their needs. Another opportunity presented in the partial SWOT which still provides global and local economic benefits is the decentralization of energy and declining coal-based energy consumption. With decentralization, smaller localized plants will allow expansion into renewable energy sources through vertical integration. In addition, alternative sources will become available including extracting of shale gas in developing nations. These opportunities provide entry into new markets and strategic partnerships.
Additional threats associated with the external environment that Engie must be aware of include fierce competition in the marketplace. There are numerous firms shifting to gain a better position in the energy industry. This will affect price volatility and Engie’s market position. This poses a serious threat, as many of Engie’s competitors are global firms with diverse value propositions and product offerings. Deregulation of the NG and electricity industry pose another threat as entry into the marketplace now has less barriers. Further, NG is a nonrenewable depleting fossil fuel and prices tend to be volatile due to supply and demand and unconventional extraction methods such as fracking, can increase prices along with fluctuating economic conditions in foreign nations because of the damage to the environment. In addition, a large amount of capital is needed to conduct operations, support infrastructure and enter into new markets. This includes researching and developing essential technologies to support new ventures. Firms must face changing and increasing foreign tariffs and taxation (Haines, 2017, par 1.) along with mounting global regulations focused on reducing pollution and greenhouse emissions. Also, while operating in foreign nations, firms are subjected to currency volatility.
Porter’s Five Forces
Power of Buyers:
High Power of Suppliers: Medium-High Threat of Entry: low Threat of Substitutes; Medium
End consumer cannot negotiate prices Highly competitive environment Essential component High barriers to entry Renewable energy
Both commercial and consumers buyers will incur high switching costs Competitors vertically and horizontally integrate Forward integration Large capital requirements High switching costs
Little differentiation of commodity energy sources Globalization Supplier fragmentation Proprietary technology Lack of available innovative technologies
Intangible Deregulation and unbundled High exit costs Intellectual property Necessary energy source OPEC control 90% of oil reserves Research and development Inelastic demand in short run Essential component in energy industry Government regulations and policies Elastic demand in long run Forward integration Economies of scale Engie has an extensive distribution network Value chain integration Access to downstream and midstream of value chain Prices are controlled through industry benchmarks Tariffs and energy taxation B2B can dictate quality only Access to distribution channels High exit barriers Costs to meet regulations Geographic access Political negotiations Price volitivity The five-force model indicates there are several areas that Engie can leverage to gain and hold their position in the marketplace. First, the power of buyers in the energy industry presents a low threat as end-users cannot negotiate prices and must either pay the stated price or go to another retailer for their energy needs. If the buyer decides to go to another retailer, they may incur switching costs. Energy sources such as natural gas and electricity are intangible products and because prices are mandated by industry benchmarks, there is little or no difference to consumers. Energy is a necessary commodity and is needed to operate a variety of machines and vehicles. Without this component, buyers are forced to pay at least the most competitive energy price to maintain the most minimal standard of comfort. There are other substitutes energy sources available like hydrogen and solar energy. However, until innovative products utilizing renewable sources are more widely available, customers are unable to substitute energy sources. Business buyers also face similar obstacles and have little power in prices and sources. However, they can dictate the quality of the energy source. When there are price increases of energy supplies, the demand in inelastic in the short run as buyers are unable to switch or stop using energy sources. However, in the long run, demand becomes elastic because buyers can make long-term changes in their energy consumption by purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles and appliances.
The rivalry is high due to fierce competition in the industry from governments deregulating and unbundling the energy marketplace. This had led to increased globalization with firms expanding their market share through vertical and horizontal integrations to gain more access to the energy supply value chain (Mihaela Ionescu, 2016, p. 137).
The power of suppliers is medium-high threat due to oil and gas being an essential component in the energy industry and a raw material (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p.93). There are high switching costs to find alternative sources of energy and many firms are fully integrated across the value supply chain and involved in all aspects of the oil and gas activities including upstream, midstream and downstream activities (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p.123-125). This allows for more control over quality and the supply of oil and gas. Lastly, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) controls approximately 90 % of crude oil reserves in the world giving them power to dictate fossil fuel prices and supply.
The barriers to entry are high due to high capitals investments required to enter the marketplace (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p.92), research and developmental costs and proprietary technology needed to protect innovative technologies and patents (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p.114). Many existing firms diversify their portfolios through mergers and acquisitions which requires access to funding and investors. There are also various government regulations and policies firms need to abide by throughout the value chain for environmental purposes. Established firms can reap economies of scale due to large scale operations and access to distribution channels (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 92). In unstable nations, firms must negotiate terms with political figures and meet that nations regulations to conduct business. There are high costs associated with accessing oil and gas deposits as well as geographic deterrents. Lastly there are high exit barriers and price volitivity to contend with in the industry.
The final force is the threat of substitutes. This is considered a medium to low threat as there are not many substitutes for commodity products. However, renewable energy does pose a threat with innovative power resources gaining popularity such as hydrogen powered vehicles, solar power, and wind power. However, there is immense amount of time needed before infrastructures are established to support these new energy sources. Currently there is a lack of availability for these products. Another factor is the availability of alternative sources and high switching costs due to existing infrastructure along with commercial and domestic applications that utilize gas and/or electricity.
Competitive Profile Matrix
Engie Petroleo Brasileiro SA ENI S.P.A Total S.A.
CSF Weight Rating Score Rating Score Rating Score Rating Score
Market Share 0.10 2 0.20 3 0.30 3 0.30 4 0.40
Research ; Development 0.05 3 0.15 2 0.10 4 0.20 4 0.20
Supplier Network 0.12 4 0.48 2 0.24 4 0.48 3 0.36
Distribution Channels 0.14 3 0.42 2 0.28 3 0.42 4 0.56
Innovation 0.08 3 0.24 2 0.16 4 0.32 4 0.32
Social and Environmental Responsibility 0.04 3 0.12 1 0.04 3 0.12 2 0.08
Production Capacity 0.09 4 0.36 3 0.27 4 0.38 4 0.36
Global Expansion 0.12 3 0.36 1 0.12 3 0.36 4 0.48
Logistics 0.10 2 0.20 2 0.20 3 0.30 3 0.30
Financial position 0.06 2 0.12 3 0.06 2 0.12 4 0.24
Long-term debts 0.08 1 0.08 1 0.24 3 0.16 4 0.20
Total 1.00 – 2.73 – 2.01 – 3.16 – 3.50
The Competitive Matrix offers another look at Engie’s competitors by evaluating the critical success factors and assigning a weight to each factor. After approximating each weight, each component was given a rating which based off previous research. The weight is then multiplied by the rating to provide a score. Each score is then tallied to provide a total for each firm. The firm with a score of 2.5 or below is considered below average and will need to address those areas of concern. Firms with a score higher than 2.5 is considered a strong competitor.
After analyzing each competitor and choosing the most relevant success factors, the firm Total S.A. currently has the strongest competitive power in comparison to the other competitors listed. Total S.A. highest strengths lies in its ability to research and development along with strong innovation. It’s access to distribution channels, logistics and the supplier network provides Total S.A. with additional strengths in the industry. This is apparent with the intensified production capacity revealed. This in turn has provided the firm opportunities to expand globally and as a result increase revenue streams which has reduced their debt levels (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 48). Although, Total S.A. scored low in the social and environmental responsibly factor, they are still able to maintain their position as a market leader.
External Factor Evaluation (EFE)
Opportunities Weight Rating Weighted Score
1. Research ; Development 0.12 3 0.36
2. Renewable energy sources 0.14 2 0.28
3. Mergers and Acquisitions 0.10 3 0.30
4. Decentralization 0.10 2 0.20
5. Technology 0.08 3 0.24
6. Strategic Alliances 0.10 2 0.20
Threats – – –
1. Resource depletion 0.08 2 0.16
2. Foreign exchange rates 0.10 3 0.30
3. Taxation and tariffs 0.09 2 0.18
4. International trade regulations 0.09 2 0.18
Total Weighted Score 100% – 2.40
The total weight score the Engie received is 2.40 which indicates that Engie needs to strengthen its strategies to respond to the opportunities and threats more efficiently and effectively.
Since the competition in the energy industry is fierce, many firms compete to gain a competitive advantage. Therefore, companies must establish a strategy which is created by top executives that maps out long-term objectives with distinct goals that allows them to market their products or services to obtain profits for their shareholders (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 43). However, the business environment is constantly evolving (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 8) and firms must adjust tactics and ploys deemed necessary to outmaneuver competitors (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 9-10) and position themselves in the marketplace (Mastering Strategic Management, 2016, p. 13) by developing distinct capabilities that facilitate differentiation.
Although Engie is a leading player in the power industry there are several energy industry competitors identified including Petroleo Brasileiro SA, ENI S.P.A and Total S.A.
Petroleo Brasileiro SA or otherwise known as Petrobras is a Brazilian publicly-held firm which operates globally throughout the energy value chain including in the United States, Africa and Japan. However, the majority of their focus is in South America. Their integrated operations include the production of oil and natural gas, but they also have interests in electric power, petrochemicals, fertilizers and bio-fuel segments which comprises biodiesel manufacturing, ethanol and energy derived from sugarcane bagasse. Petrobras success lies within their ability to integrate upstream activities. They have been able to establish themselves as the leading energy firm in South America with over 39 consolidated firms and a recorded daily output of over 2.0 million barrels of oil reported in June of 2018 (Oxford Analytica Ltd, 2018, p. 2). However, a huge corruption scandal, involving numerous politicians, company executives and Brazil’s President, negatively impacted the firm’s reputation (Damgaard, 2018, p. 114). With a 2.14 debt-to-equity ratio, they also appear to be in financial distress from their massive debt obligations (Mergent Online, 2018). This will cause future setbacks when trying to borrow funds to amplify their infrastructure and productions. In addition, this low ratio signifies the health of the firm is in danger, deterring future investors. As a result, Petrobras has begun to consolidate their debt by divesting assets from their upstream subsidiaries (Oxford Analytica Ltd, 2018, p. 1).
Another fierce competitor for Engie is Eni S.p.A. This Fortune 500 global firm is based in Italy and centralizes their profit stream through oil and gas upstream and mid-downstream activities. Eni S.p.A. operates in over 70 countries and is dedicated to decarbonization with a strong focus on streamlining processes through digital enhancements and integration business operations. Eni S.p.A reported over $63 billion in revenues for the first quarter in 2018, which is attributed to price increases of crude oil and efficient downstream operations. In addition, Eni is effectively managing their long-term business operations and financial structures as they had 1.39 debt-to-equity ratio in 2017. Eni is also earning decent profits with a 2.93% return-on-assets (ROA) and a 7% return-on-equity (ROE) in 2017. This indicates that they are effectively managing shareholder’s money and generating strong profits. However, profits earned in the first and second quarter of 2018 from Eni’s downstream operations fell due to adverse trading in the marketplace (Eni, 2018, p. 12), dismal progress from their South American operations in Venezuela and reduced profit margins in their chemical sector due to lower priced components flooding the market from their competition in the Middle-East and United States (Eni, 2018, p. 10). Another weakness Eni must contend with was the shutdown of their oil and gas productions in Apennines, Italy. Although this took place in 2016, Eni has not been able to recover yet sufficiently and as a result production rates and oil reserves in Italy have dropped slightly (Enipedia, 2018, para. 4).
Total SA is the world’s fourth largest oil and gas industrial company based in France with revenues reaching $156,298 million. In 2017, they reported a 10.1% ROA (Total, 2017, p. 7) and a 1.12 debt-to-equity ratio (Mergent Online, 2018). This firm’s strength comes from their diversified upstream and downstream energy activities in 130 countries including exploration and production of oil and gas, renewable energies and liquified natural gas (LNG). They also have integrated operations in the petrochemical fields, specialty chemicals such as adhesives and resins, renewable energies, coal mining and power plants long with marketing their petroleum products in over 16,000 service stations and B2B operations (Total, 2018, p. 116). They pride themselves on being a major player in the research and development of innovative technologies. Although they are considered one of Engie’s top competitor, Total SA recently purchased Engie’s LNG upstream assets making Total SA a leader in the LNG industry along with gaining 10% of the market share (Total, 2018). This 94-year-old company has risen to the top through intense merger and acquisitions, including acquiring Maersk oil in 2018 (The Chemical Engineer, 2017, p.16). Despite their strengths, Total was charged in 2013 with bribing an Iranian government official (The Securities and Exchange Commission, 2013, para. 1). This may lead investors to believe that Total is not always acting in the best interest of others and is profit driven to the point of being implicated in illegal maneuvers.
There are significant trends in the energy industry that present opportunities to gain a competitive advantage. Some of these trends include reducing dependency on traditional sources of energy such as coal. As a result, firms will need to conduct research and developmental studies to investigate renewable energy sources such as solar, wind power, geothermal energies, biomass, hydro and “clean-burning” fuels derived from biomass materials such as ethanol and biodiesel. The European Union has been steadily advocating the reduction of carbon-based energies to reduce emissions and other pollutants through the development of renewable energies (Soava, Mehedintu, Sterpu ; Raduteanu, 2018, p. 917). Engie has recently launched a comprehensive energy transition strategy to provide low-carbon resources and solutions through renewable energy power, natural gas, liquefied natural gas and innovative technologies (Power, 2018, February, para 1). The company’s CEO’s plan is to become a carbon-free enterprise over the next 32 years through further acquisitions of firms concentrated in renewable gas resources from biomass (Engie, 2018). Advances in digital technology will help energy firms restructure and streamline their operations by becoming more efficient in managing their supply chain including upstream, midstream and downstream operations. This strategy will ultimately reduce operating costs and increase productivity. Other areas of consideration are shale gas exploration. Although there is some controversy about the techniques used to extract this gas, there are major opportunities opening to explore this alternative fuel source worldwide. In North America, shale gas production has exploded in the marketplace and many foreign nations have begun to follow this potential recoverable resource including Asian and South American nations as shale now makes up approximately 13% of all gas production (Mistré, Crénes, Hafner, 2017, p. 1-2).
There are many external forces that can influence a firm’s competitive position in the marketplace. To remain competitive, it is vital that these elements and forces are identified by performing a comprehensive analysis which utilizes various strategic tools and matrices that examine the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities which exist in a competitive environment to derive a strategy that will provide a firm with specific direction to gain a competitive advantage.
Therefore, after conducting the external environment analysis and examining Engie’s top three competitors, it appears that there are several areas that Engie must address to remain competitive. This includes looking for ways to increase their position in the marketplace through vertical integration, incorporating integrated technologies into their value chain operations to enhance their midstream and downstream activities and further investigating into research and development of renewable energy sources that will assist them in the mandated decarbonization act the EU has implemented.
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