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CHEVRON CORP’S CABINDA joint venture is spending US$2.3bn over five years to reduce flaring

--the burning of natural gas from oil fields--and instead utilise the gas, according to a top company official.

The disclosure comes as foreign oil companies are increasingly investing to monetise the gas that used to burn in their African fields, driven by higher gas prices and environmentalists' demands. In an interview during a visit at the Chevron compound in Angola's Cabinda enclave, John Baltz, Chevron's Southern Africa production manager, said though the spending is designed to be financially sound, "it isn't solely an economic project" but also a corporate responsibility effort.

In particular, he said it will "reduce emissions for Chevron's corporate targets." Some of the projects covered by the US$3.2bn budget are already in operation while others have yet to be completed. Chevron is the operator and 39.2 per cent shareholder of the venture, which also comprises state oil company Sonangol with 41 per cent, Total SA with 10% and Eni SpA with 9.8 per cent. The oil fields operated by Chevron in Cabinda generate 1 bn cubic feet of gas a day.