Italian oil company Eni swung to an annual loss in 2020, marking what its chief executive said was “a year like no other in the history of the energy industry”.
The Rome-based company on Friday turned an adjusted net loss of €742m last year from a net profit of €2.9bn in 2019.
The coronavirus pandemic caused demand for oil and gas to collapse and sent prices lower last year, hitting the finances of energy companies and forcing the world’s oil majors to report a string of losses in 2020.
However, Eni swung back into profitability in the fourth quarter after a rebound in crude prices, providing some relief at the end of a brutal year for the industry.
It reported a net profit of €66m in the final three months of the year, beating an analyst consensus forecast for a loss of €40m. But it was still down 88 per cent from the same period a year ago.
Eni’s performance was “underpinned by our operating cash generation and the effectiveness of our response to the crisis”, said chief executive Claudio Descalzi in a statement on Friday.
Eni was cushioned in the quarter by its oil exploration and production business, as higher prices offset an 11 per cent drop in output, as well as its power and renewables division.
The company confirmed a 2020 dividend of 36 cents a share.
Eni, like its peers, is ploughing ahead with its strategy for the energy transition to cleaner fuels with pressure from investors and environmentalists only growing to take action on climate change.
It is expected to lay out its corporate strategy for the coming years on Friday.
Eni announced ambitious climate goals last year, pledging to slash its net emissions by 2050.
While many oil and gas producers are investing more in cleaner energies, they are still reliant on fossil fuels to drive cash generation, meaning this is where they will direct most of their spending for years to come.