(EnergyAsia, February 25 2010, Thursday) — The Saudi Arabian government is expressing impatience with the slow progress in its plans to use Japan’s Okinawa Islands as a hub for storing, handling and distributing crude oil to serve the fast-growing Asian market.

State oil company Aramco had been eager to follow through with plans to store millions of barrels of oil in commercial storage facilities in Japan after the two governments had signed a deal last December. Instead, Saudi oil officials have found that the Japanese government has been unable to offer them storage terminals as most have already been booked till next year.

Ironically, the Japanese government has been courting Aramco to use its storage terminals as part of a long-term goal to beef up its own access to oil supplies.

South Korea has stolen a march on Japan by offering several oil producing countries the use of its terminals in exchange for first access to the oil in the event of an emergency supply cut-off.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi had earlier said that Japan had offered Aramco the free use of commercial storage in Okinawa.