Maersk Group, the Danish firm, reported a net loss of $1 billion compared to a net profit of $3.5 billion in 2008, on the back of lower freight rates and lower prices for oil and gas as a result of the global economic crisis.

“The average price of crude oil was 36% lower in 2009 than in 2008, while the Group’s share of oil and gas production was at the same level as in 2008,” said Maersk in the report.

The Group’s Oil and Gas division reported positive results for the year but still saw a 51% drop in profit from $2.3 billion in 2008 to $1.164 billion last year. Profits for the division came in at $9.029 billion, down from $13.494 billion in 2008.

Nils Andersen, Group chief executive, said his company is dealing with the loss, “We managed to limit the loss by saving around $2 billion and we will continue to strengthen our competitiveness even further. We expect to return to modest profits in 2010.”