Chevron Corp said it would spend $4 billion to develop its Big Foot project in the Gulf of Mexico, even as tougher rules and higher costs loom for deepwater operators.

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company behind Exxon Mobil , has continued to invest in the Gulf of Mexico even as uncertainty over costs and the U.S. government's new safety regulations linger following the BP Plc oil spill disaster.

Sanctioning Big Foot underscores our commitment to the Gulf of Mexico and will contribute to future U.S. energy supply, George Kirkland, vice chairman of Chevron, said in a statement.

In October Chevron said it planned to spend $7.5 billion at its Jack/St Malo project in the Gulf.

Big Foot, located about 225 miles south of New Orleans in water depths of 5,200 feet, is expected to have production capacity of 75,000 barrels of oil and 25 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

First oil is anticipated in 2014, the San Ramon, California, company said.

Last week, Chevron said it planned to increase spending 20 percent next year, with the bulk of its $26 billion budget earmarked for exploration and production projects.

Shares of Chevron rose 20 cents to $88.21 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, compared with a small decline in the Chicago Board Options Exchange index of oil companies <.OIX>.

(Reporting by Anna Driver, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace)