Increasing energy prices and market volatilities force energy intensive industries to implement energy management systems in order to ensure competitiveness. In this paper, we focus on the strategic level of energy management, specifically, on the analysis of the internal and external conditions that form the basis for strategic development. For this, we selected the case of the Austrian paper and pulp industry. We applied a hybrid method by combining an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with an analytic hierarchy process which was based on a survey of expert opinion. The results show that cost-related factors predominate. According to our analysis, the four most important factors are all directly linked to energy costs, energy efficiency, and the energy market. Experts pay little attention to environmental issues or to energy market volatilities. Apart from that, the combination of an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with an analytic hierarchy process promises to be a valuable tool for strategic energy management. This is especially true for energy intensive companies and/or sectors, since it enables decision makers to take strategic decisions based on a systematic understanding of the main issues.