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Alaska residents to receive record payment from oil royalty fund

Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 10:28
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The silhouette of pumpjacks is seen on the site of an oil well outside Williston, North Dakota, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015.

[SAN FRANCISCO] Alaska will give each resident more than $2,000 next month as the annual payout from an oil wealth trust fund, a state revenue official said on Wednesday, a record amount despite the collapse in oil prices last year.

About 645,000 residents will receive the payout from The Alaska Permanent Fund, said Jerry Burnett, deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Revenue.

Alaska residents must have lived in the state an entire calendar year before becoming eligible to receive the money.

The payout will surpass the US$1,884 doled out by the fund last year and exceed the record US$2,069 paid in 2008, Burnett said. Payments began in 1982 with a US$1,000 check to residents.

Alaska's Permanent Fund was established by a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1976 requiring a portion of state oil revenues to be put into a savings account to be available for the distant future, when North Slope oil fields are tapped out.

The payment to citizens is derived from a formula averaging the Permanent Fund earnings over a five-year period.

Global crude oil prices collapsed in late 2014 as global production exceeded demand, but the price of crude has less of an impact on the annual payments than how well the fund manages its US$51 billion portfolio.

The fund benefited in 2014 from a surging stock market as well as real estate and private equity investments, Mr Burnett said.

Continued low crude oil prices this year have helped to keep the unemployment rate in the state at 6.7 per cent as of July, higher than the national rate as oil companies curtail production operations.

The annual payout from the fund is credited with keeping many low-income Alaskan families out of poverty.

The exact amount of the payment will be made public later this month. Checks will be put in the mail and direct deposits will be sent to bank accounts beginning on Oct 1.

REUTERS

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