* Gas Q1 op. profit up 57 pct on Russia gas renegotiation
* Sees 2012 production higher on Libya resumption
* Eni gearing up for sale of stake in Snam (Releads, adds detail, background)
MILAN, April 27 (Reuters) - Italian oil and gas group Eni beat forecasts on Friday when it posted a 13 percent rise in its underlying net profit in the first quarter thanks to higher oil prices and the renegotiation of gas contracts in Russia.
For the full year Eni said it expected its hydrocarbon production to be higher than the previous year, mainly thanks to the recovery in Libyan output.
The group, which renegotiated its long-term gas supply contracts with Russia’s Gazprom in March with retroactive effect for 2011, said it sees its natural gas sales for the year roughly in line with those in 2011.
Eni, the biggest foreign oil operator in Libya, said it expects output there to be back to pre-war levels in the second half of the year.
On Wednesday Eni and Rosneft signed an agreement to jointly tap fields in Russia’s Barents and Black Sea zones. “I’m very pleased with the agreement we have recently signed with Rosneft as it underpins our exploration opportunities for many years to come,” Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said.
Over the past year, Eni has dispelled some concern about its profitability and long-term growth potential by scoring exploration successes in Norway and, especially, in Mozambique.
State-controlled Eni is gearing up to sell its 52 percent stake in Italian gas transport group Snam along with its stake in Portugal’s Galp Energia as it presses ahead with its focus on upstream development.
Eni said its adjusted net profit in the first three months was 2.48 billion euros. That compared to a Reuters poll of eight analysts that had forecast an average of 2.328 billion euros.
Reporting By Stephen Jewkes, editing by William Hardy