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Eni, the Italian oil and gas group, has posted net profit of €965m in the first quarter, beating analysts’ expectations as it benefitted from a recovery in oil prices to an average of $54 per barrel.

Eni’s results follow strong profits from other international oil majors, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and BP. Royal Dutch Shell’s profits more than doubled compared to the first quarter of 2016.

The improvement in the results has been due to the higher price of crude oil compared to the first quarter of last year, but has been overshadowed by a recent decline, to below $50 per barrel.

During the first quarter, hydrocarbon production at Eni amounted to 1795 kboe/d, only a 2 per cent increase.

In the first quarter of 2016, Eni had actually reported a net loss of €383m, with oil prices averaging around $34 per barrel. By the fourth quarter of last year, it was turning a profit again, of €340m, as oil prices recovered to $49 per barrel.

Eni’s results – which beat forecasts of 610m euros in net profit, follow the reappointment of Claudio Descalzi to the post of CEO by the Italian government, giving him a new three-year term at the helm of the energy group.

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