Repeal of Alaska oil tax trails

Vote: early results show effort to repeal oil tax in Alaska losing

Alaskan voters appear to have narrowly upheld a new law that cut taxes on oil production and is worth up to $1 billion a year for companies such as ConocoPhillips, BP and ExxonMobil, according to available results.

With 98% of voting precincts reporting on Wednesday from Tuesday's primary, those favouring the lower taxes held a four-point lead, according to unofficial returns posted by the Alaska Division of Elections.

Upholding the eight-month-old tax cut ushered in by Governor Sean Parnell means the state would not revert back to the system implemented by his old boss, Sarah Palin, who raised taxes in 2007.

Results will not be certified until 2 September, said state elections director Gail Fenumiai, who added that nearly 14,600 absentee and early voting ballots needed to be counted in the coming week to see whether the repeal effort failed.

BP's Alaska Regional President, Janet Weiss, said in a prepared statement: "Alaskans have made clear they are interested in moving forward and improving Alaska's long-term economic future. We agree with the voters that oil tax reform is working, and BP is committed to doing its part to make sure that continues."

Parnell, who claimed his own victory in the state's Republican primary election on Tuesday night, has said his tax rollback will make Alaska more competitive for investment and North Slope oil producers. He called the More Alaska Production Act crucial to the state's long-term future because it would reverse declining output.

Those pushing for the repeal said Parnell's system only put more money in the oil companies' pockets for investment elsewhere, while depleting the state's fiscal war chest.

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