Eni Q3 profit jumps back to pre-COVID levels boosted by gas

(Reuters) – Italian energy group Eni (ENI.MI) on Friday beat expectations with a third-quarter profit that jumped back to pre-COVID levels boosted by higher gas prices.

The group swung to an adjusted net profit of 1.43 billion euros ($1.67 billion) from a 153 million euro loss a year earlier and beat a 1.08 billion euro consensus forecast.

Gas prices have surged in recent months as tight supplies met with strong demand in economies recovering from the pandemic, boosting bottom lines for many energy companies.

“In the first nine months strong cash generation and careful cost management has freed up more than 4 billion euros of free cash flow, more than enough to cover the whole dividend and buyback for 2021,” CEO Claudio Descalzi said in a statement.

Oil and gas production grew 6% on the second quarter to 1.688 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (mboe/d) and the group said it expected output in the final three months to reach 1.76 mboe/d.

Last year Eni launched an overhaul to shift into renewables and reduce its oil and gas output as it looks to become carbon neutral by 2050.

It recently created a new division comprising renewable energy and retail and plans to list a minority stake in the company to help fund its green drive.

On Friday it said it expected to have 2 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity installed or under construction by the end of this year compared to less than 1 GW last year.

The company is targeting renewable capacity of 15 GW in 2030.

($1 = 0.8572 euros)

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