Japan Offers Nuclear Help to Saudi Arabia to Free Up Oil

Japan has offered to help Saudi Arabia build nuclear power stations to free up more oil for exports, Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday, but a visiting Japanese minister said he was not seeking a supply increase now.

Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi’s visit at the weekend was aimed at securing extra oil from the world’s biggest exporter in case of instability in world supply, Japanese officials had said.

Japan’s reliance on oil imports has risen after its own shift from nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, but any deal to give Japan priority access to Saudi crude in the event of supply shortages would worry other oil importers.

“It was not that we have asked for any specific request for increase of production or supply. It was just the confirmation of the relationship we have,” Motegi told journalists when asked whether he had sought assurances Japan could get more oil in a crisis.

Motegi had offered help building nuclear plants to free more crude for export and to meet rising Saudi demand for electricity, Kyodo news agency said. A Saudi official told Motegi he was hopeful Japanese technology could be used.

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