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2011 will see Saudi Aramco store crude in Japan


Saudis state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco signed a contract with state-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) that would allow the Saudi company to store crude oil in Japan from February 2011 onwards.

The deal would help the Pacific nation to stock up its reserves while giving the top oil exporter better access to Asian markets.

Under the agreement, Saudi Aramco would be allowed to store about 600,000 kilolitres (3.8 million barrels) of crude in Okinawa, southwest Japan, for three years ending December 2013. The first vessel carrying 1.9 million barrels of crude is scheduled to arrive in February 2011.

The announcement follows a deal Japan signed with Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) to store crude in the country, as Middle East oil producers move to bolster their onshore crude storage capacity in Asia.

The contract also comes six months after the basic agreements between Japan's trade ministry and Saudi Aramco. Saudi Arabia and Japan have been discussing an agreement in which the kingdom would store crude oil in Okinawa since April 2007, when the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe offered the storage.