MILAN, Italy, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Italian energy company Eni said Friday it recorded a loss in the fourth quarter and was lowering its outlook for crude oil prices in its plans for the year.
Italy's largest oil producer and a world leader in the natural gas sector reported an adjusted net loss of around $419 million, after taking a profit of around $275 million a year earlier. Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi said last year's results were pressured by slumping crude oil prices and this year would be no different.
"We are continuing Eni's transformation process with the goal of making the group even stronger and better able to operate in difficult external conditions, enabling us to maintain solid growth expectations," he said in a statement.
Eni has been robust with new activity and exploration, scoring a victory with Egyptian government consent to start developing the Zohr natural gas field offshore, which the company said may be one of the biggest discoveries in the world.
Production during the fourth quarter of 1.9 million barrels of oil equivalent was the highest level for Eni in five years. New exploration activity, boosted by the Zohr field, yielded 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent in what the company described as fresh resources.
Looking ahead, Eni said the macroeconomic outlook for 2016 was negative because of the risks presented by slow economic growth in Europe and China. As a result, the company said it lowered its forecast for crude oil prices that would support spending from $63 per barrel through the end of this year to $50 per barrel.
Brent crude oil was trading around $37 per barrel in early Friday trading.