(a) For the purpose of defraying the expenses connected with the administration and enforcement of this article, including the expense of the inspections, tests, analyses, and all other expenses connected with the supervision and protection of crude petroleum oil and natural gas in the State of Alabama, there is hereby levied on the producer a tax equal in amount to two percent of the gross value, at the point of production, of the crude petroleum oil or natural gas produced for sale, transport, storage, profit, or for use from any well or wells in the State of Alabama. Provided, however, that the tax on offshore production, produced from depths greater than 8,000 feet below mean sea level, shall not be computed as a percentage of gross value at the point of production, as provided in this section, but shall be computed as a percentage of gross proceeds, as provided in Section 9-17-35. Also provided, that natural gas lawfully injected into oil or gas pools or reservoirs in the soil or beneath the soil or waters of the State of Alabama is exempt from this tax. Provided, further, that natural gas lawfully injected into the earth for the purpose of lifting oil or gas in the State of Alabama is exempt from this tax. However, if any gas so injected into the earth is sold for such purposes or injected into underground storage facilities as defined in Section 9-17-150 et seq., then the gas so sold or injected shall not be exempt from this tax. Natural gas lawfully vented or flared in connection with the production, treatment, or processing of oil or gas is exempt from the tax. The tax shall be paid to the Department of Revenue directly by the purchaser when authorized in writing by the producer, and, when so paid, the producer or person in charge of production shall be relieved of any further liability.
(b) For any well for which the initial permit issued by the Oil and Gas Board is dated on or after July 1, 1996, and before July 1, 2002, except a replacement well for a well for which the initial permit was issued by the Oil and Gas Board is dated before July 1, 1996, the applicable rate of tax levied pursuant to subsection (a) shall be one percent for a period of five years commencing with commercial production, after which subsection (a) shall apply.