(Reuters) - 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 Japanpriority 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.
Saudi Arabia's plan to build up to 17 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity over the next two decades has offered a possible lifeline to plant builders hit by a lack of demand since the Fukushima disaster.
Motegi met Saudi Deputy Oil Minister Abdul Aziz Bin Salman bin Abdulaziz in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Crude imports from OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia, Japan's biggest supplier, accounted for 31 percent of Japan's total in 2012, rising five percent from the year before to offset a cut to Iranian imports due to sanctions. More