SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) — South Korean refiners’ exports fell to the lowest level in 10 years in the first quarter of the year as global oil demand remained low amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, industry data showed Tuesday.

Oil and petrochemical products shipped by SK Innovation Co., GS-Caltex Co., S-Oil Corp., Hyundai Oilbank Co. and others reached 90.94 million barrels in the first quarter of the year, down 27.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea Petroleum Association.

The tally marks the lowest amount in terms of volume since the first quarter of 2011.

Their exports by value declined 18.9 percent on-year to $6.14 billion won over the period, the association said.

Local refiners scaled down their factory operation rate to 72 percent in the first three months of this year, down from 81.6 percent a year earlier, in line with the weak oil demand.

China was the largest buyer of South Korean oil products to take up 36.9 percent of the total, followed by Japan with 14.4 percent, Australia with 8.8 percent and the United States with 8.6 percent, it said.

Refiners are eyeing more shipments of aviation fuel to the U.S. as airlines are preparing for a travel rebound with increased vaccinations in the nation.