Our strategy as a responsible energy producer is to ensure maximum financial flexibility through active management of our portfolio.
By maintaining a balance sheet that is resilient to periods of volatility, we are able to target high quality resources and continually renew the portfolio to ensure relevance through the energy transition, and meet our commitment to net zero by 2040 or earlier. Ultimately, this strategic focus has enabled us to differentiate our business by enabling significant capital returns to shareholders.
All investment decisions assessed against multiple externally assured transition scenarios
Our emphasis on proactive portfolio management means we maintain control of our own destiny by optimising capital allocation and ensuring the right asset balance at any point in time. This enables us to return cash to shareholders. In 2021, we returned or committed to return nearly US$1bn. We weigh reinvestment in the business against returning cash to shareholders when considering capital allocation.
Proactive portfolio management also enables us to invest in growing, diversifying and sustaining the cash flow-generating asset base. We target long-life, full-cycle portfolios with low break-even costs to best position us to support future shareholder returns.
Renewing and building the portfolio is delivered in a way that maintains balance sheet flexibility. A resilient capital structure provides protection against volatility and discipline in portfolio choices ensures control over our capital programme.
Exploration remains core to our future strategy. New discoveries support future cash flows through organic reserves replacement, with the potential for transformational events to create further shareholder value. Our exploration focus is on advantaged resources that can remain competitive through stringent energy transition scenarios and will move quickly to commercialisation.
Against the backdrop of a global energy system in transition, we are positioning ourselves for sustainable growth, in line with a commitment to net zero by 2040, and with financial and operational discipline.