Japan agrees to extend Saudi Aramco crude storage deal, says official

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Tokyo has agreed in principle to allow Saudi Aramco to store crude in Japan beyond the end of2013, a Japanese government official said on Thursday, giving the top oil exporter continued access to a key supply depot close to its largest customers.

The contract, which was first agreed between Aramco and state-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) in December 2010, has also helped the energy-hungry Asian nation bulk up its emergency crude reserves.

The initial agreement allows Aramco to store up to 600,000 kiloliters (3.8 million barrels) of crude in Okinawa, south west Japan, for three years ending December 2013.

In return for providing free storage space, Japan gets apriority claim on the stockpiles in case of an emergency.

Saudi Aramco started storing crude in Okinawa from February2011, and has used the facility to supply oil to China, Japan and South Korea.

The official declined to say how much oil Saudi Aramco currently has stored in Okinawa. Details on the contract extension are still to be worked out, the official said.

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