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MILAN, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Italian oil major Eni said on Friday it could create “substantial surplus value” for shareholders in future after fourth quarter profits more than doubled and beat forecasts.
Like its peers in the oil industry, state-controlled Eni has benefited from higher crude prices after about three years of weak prices that knocked the business and prompted deep cost cutting measures by energy firms.
Eni said its adjusted net profit in the last three months of 2017 was 0.98 billion euros, well above an analyst consensus provided by the company of 0.57 billion euros.
Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said in a statement the group saw excellent growth prospects for all of its businesses, adding that “should conditions be more favourable, (Eni) will be in a position to create a substantial surplus value for shareholders.” He did not elaborate.
The group confirmed a dividend of 0.8 euros a share on 2017 results.
The Italian group, which hit its all time production high in December with 1.92 million barrels of oilequivalent per day (boe/d), said it expected its production to rise 3 percent this year, lifted by its operations in Egypt, Angola and Indonesia.
In the fourth quarter, Eni produced an average of 1.89 million boe/d, up 1.9 percent year-on year and its highest quarterly production in the last seven years.
Eni, the world’s most successful explorer in recent years after finding two super-giant fields in Egypt and Mozambique, said it planned 8 billion euros in capital expenditure this year. The oil price collapse from above $100 a barrel 2014 to below $30 in early 2016 prompted oil firms to cut costs and sell assets. Benchmark Brent crude has since recovered some ground, and is now trading at above $64.
BP, Shell and Total have also all beaten profit forecasts for the quarter. (Reporting by Giulia Segreti and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Edmund Blair)