(Adds Japan setting up task force to respond to output disruption)
TOKYO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Oil refiners in Japan, the world’s fourth-biggest importer of crude oil, are gathering information on supplies from Saudi Arabia following an attack on the kingdom’s key crude oil facilities over the weekend, company officials said on Tuesday.
The attack on state-owned producer Saudi Aramco’s crude-processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais cut output by 5.7 million barrels per day and threw into question its ability to maintain oil exports.
Saudi Aramco has not given a specific timeline for the resumption of full output. Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil exporter and has been the supplier of last resort for decades.
Officials from Japan’s JXTG Holdings, Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd and Cosmo Energy Holdings Co Ltd said they were collecting information but declined to comment further on Saudi Arabian oil or alternative supplies.
“We don’t expect any major problem on our crude procurement,” said a Fuji Oil spokesman, pointing to the company’s capability to get alternative supplies.
Japan will consider coordinated release of oil reserves and other measures if needed to ensure sufficient supplies after the attack on Saudi oil facilities, its minister of economy, trade and industry, Isshu Sugawara, said earlier on Tuesday.
Sugawara’s ministry set up a task force to monitor the impact of the output disruption in Saudi Arabia on oil supplies to Japan and to take timely measures.
Japan’s Nikkei share average inched up to a 4-1/2-month closing high, as soaring oil prices triggered by the attack boosted oil and gas-related companies.
Oil prices ended nearly 15% higher on Monday, with Brent logging its biggest increase in over 30 years amid record trading volumes, after the attack cut the kingdom’s production in half and fanned fears of retaliation in the Middle East. (Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick, Yuka Obayashi, Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Steve Orlofsky)