Oil & gas group Eni saw profits soar from its small but fast-growing power and renewables business – in contrast to a massive loss at its core fossil operations – as it pledged higher investments in its energy transition activities.

The Italian group posted a €57m ($67m) third-quarter profit at the power unit, a near-fourfold growth year-on-year, as it tripled renewables capacity to 276MW.

The numbers are small in global renewable energy market terms and when set against its dominant oil & gas operations, but point to a direction of travel for Eni which earlier this year pledged to amass 55GW of renewables by 2050 as part of a decarbonisation plan.

The third quarter saw Eni widen its ambitions in US renewables in conjunction with Falck Renewables and acquire a clutch of wind projects in Italy.

Eni expects to invest €800m by 2022/23 in expansion of its renewable-related business, against an overall Capex of €5.2bn this year.

The growing renewables income came amid a €500m group loss for Eni as its oil & gas business was hammered by a sharp downturn in demand exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.

Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi said: “In a market environment that remains challenging, we are continuing to successfully mitigate the negative impact of this crisis and making progress with our decarbonisation strategy.

“Faced with a crisis of unprecedented proportions, Eni has demonstrated great resilience and flexibility. In light of these results, we look forward to a recovery in demand, whilst continuing to pursue our energy transition programme."