Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Italian energy company Eni said Friday its production level in December reached an all-time high, attributing much of its gain to offshore Egypt.
Eni reported December production of 1.92 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, a record for the company. Fourth quarter output averaged 1.89 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, its highest quarterly production in seven years. Full-year production averaged 1.82 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, up 3.2 percent from 2016 and its highest annual average ever.
CEO Claudio Descalzi said in a statement that his company closed out the year with "excellent results." In exploration and production, Eni posted several records, even as it trimmed its spending by 40 percent from a 2014 baseline. The CEO said the company "started our most significant projects in record time, in particular the jewel in our crown, Zohr."
Production started at the Mediterranean gas field in December, less than two years after the company declared its initial commercial discovery. Zohr is the largest gas discovery ever made in Egyptian waters. About 120 miles offshore, the field holds about 5.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
Egypt aims to become a regional hub for gas and liquefied natural gas, though availability at the domestic sector could complicate growth. Eni said the startup of Zohr, however, would reshape the Egyptian energy sector.
The company said its adjusted net profit for the fourth quarter more than doubled to $1.2 billion. Net income was ahead of what analysts expected, but RBC Capital Markets said one of the main drivers of that growth came from lower taxes.
"Operationally, results are ahead a more modest 4 percent of consensus, with exploration and production a little stronger than the market was expecting," RBC said in an emailed comment on the results.