The US oil giant Chevron has unveiled its plans to invest $15bn in new oil and gas projects in 2022 to help raise shareholder returns.

The new investment plan, which is at the low end of the firm’s earlier guidance range of $15bn-$17bn, marks an increase of over 20% from the 2021 anticipated levels.

Chevron said that the new capital programme will support its aim for higher returns and lower carbon emissions.

It will also include an approximately $800m investment in projects to lower carbon emissions.

However, the programme excludes the $600m anticipated inorganic capital, taking into consideration the launch of the renewable fuel feedstocks joint venture with Bunge.

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Chevron chairman and CEO Mike Wirth said: “The 2022 capital budget reflects Chevron’s enduring commitment to capital discipline.

“We’re sizing our capital program at a level consistent with plans to sustain and grow the company as the global economy continues to recover.”

The company also plans to raise its share buyback guidance range to $3bn-$5bn per year, compared to its prior guidance of $2bn-$3bn per year.

Wirth added: “We’re a better company than we were just a few years ago. We’re more capital and cost efficient, guided by a clear and consistent objective to deliver higher returns and lower carbon. And this enables us to return more cash to shareholders.”

The firm plans to allocate an estimated $8bn to producing assets in the upstream business.

This includes $3bn for Permian Basin unconventional development, approximately $1.5bn for global shale and tight assets, and $3bn for major capital projects which are under development.

More than $1.5bn is also going to be used for exploration, early-stage development projects, midstream activities and carbon reduction opportunities.

For the downstream business, Chevron plans to spend approximately $2.3bn on refining, marketing and transport fuels, as well as manufacturer and distributor lubricants, additives, and petrochemicals.

It will also be used to boost the renewable fuels and products businesses.

Earlier this year, Chevron launched Chevron New Energies, a low-carbon fuels business unit.

The new unit will initially focus on commercialisation opportunities in carbon capture, hydrogen, and offsets and support of biofuels.