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Canadian Natural Resources Ltd on Tuesday joined its rivals in forecasting higher capital expenditure and production in 2022, as it bets on a sustained recovery of oil and gas prices from the pandemic-driven historic lows.

Canadian producers are raising their full-year expenditures as they benefit from rallying crude and gas prices. However, companies are opting to spend on buybacks, dividends and squeezing more barrels out of existing assets instead of taking on large expansion projects.

Last month, Canadian Natural’s (CNRL) rivals, Suncor Energy Inc SU-T, Cenovus Energy Inc CVE-T and Imperial Oil Ltd IMO-T, also raised their capital expenditure and output expectations for 2022.

Canadian Natural, the country’s biggest oil and natural gas producer, expects to spend $4.35-billion in 2022, higher than its 2021 estimate of $3.48-billion.

The Calgary, Alberta-based producer also said it expects total production to be between 1.27 million and 1.32 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) this year, compared with the 1.19 million to 1.26 million boepd it had estimated for 2021.

Canadian Natural President Tim McKay told a conference call that the company will focus on a balanced approach “where we have production growth, but at the same time are increasing shareholder returns and driving debt down further.”

It expects to boost production by roughly 63,000 barrels per day by 2025 through incremental growth existing projects and reducing maintenance turnarounds.

Canadian Natural shares were last up 0.7 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange at $60.34. Analysts said the budget was largely in line with expectations.

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