Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan consisting of hundreds of islands, is unique. It has long served as the pivotal bridge linking Northeast Asia with the rest of the world, and today, Okinawa again is a significant bridge connecting Saudi Aramco with the Asian region.
Saudi Aramco has operated a crude oil terminal in Uruma City on the east coast of Okinawa Island since 2010, when an agreement with the Japanese government was signed. Saudi Aramco uses the terminal to store Arabian crudes, and then it sells the crude oil to various markets in the Asia Pacific area. The agreement provides Japan the first priority in the event of an emergency.
Okinawa also was the site for three successful executive retreats that Saudi Aramco hosted in the past, uniting Saudi Aramco senior management with regional customers. With Okinawa being the symbol of the connectedness with Asia Pacific, Aramco Asia-Japan (AAJ) has been building and deepening its commitment to the island through various activities that deliver clear environmental footprints and a social license to operate on this beautiful island.
Collaborating for environment and knowledge
Situated at the northernmost end of the border between the Pacific and the Indian oceans, Okinawa is a tropical hotspot where different ocean currents meet, attracting a variety of marine species. It is believed that the effect of climate change and other marine ecosystem marvels can be observed in areas around Okinawa Island before any other parts of the world.
With support from AAJ, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University’s (OIST) team installed the Ocean Cube Observatory System here. It is one of the very few ongoing, long-term consecutive underwater monitoring systems in the world, which provides year-round biological and physical data to understand marine biological diversity. Witnessing more growth in the collaboration, AAJ has recently entered into signing an agreement to provide further assistance to OIST’s research and development activities in the marine-environment field.
AAJ also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of the Ryukyus for supporting its research and development activities related to mangroves, which is another symbolic treasured marine life in Okinawa. Similar to the coast in Saudi Arabia, mangrove trees along the coast of Okinawa provide critical habitat for birds and marine lives that are threatened from various development projects. Since the signing of the MoU, the university’s internationally renowned Tropical Biosphere Research Center conducted a data collecting experiment on one of the Okinawa islands using a newly adopted pilotless drone. It also expanded the research area by conducting joint field work with a research institute in Malaysia through which they successfully discovered new living species.