SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) — SK Innovation Co., South Korea’s largest refiner and major battery maker, said Friday it shifted to a net loss in the third quarter from a year earlier due to low demand for petrochemical products amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the three months that ended in September, SK Innovation swung to a net loss of 16.13 billion won (US$14 million) from a net profit of 174.26 billion won in the same period of last year, the company said in a statement.

“The coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh down demand for petrochemical products this year through the third quarter. Declining oil prices was also a downside factor for the bottom line,” a company spokeswoman said over the phone.

SK Innovation posted net losses in the past three quarters.

Higher oil prices usually allow a refiner to sell its petrochemical products at higher prices, though it cannot pass most of the increased prices on to customers.

The company also shifted to an operating loss of 28.94 billion won in the third quarter from an operating profit of 330.11 billion won a year ago. Sales fell 32 percent to 8.42 trillion won from 12.37 trillion won during the cited period.

From January to September, SK Innovation shifted to a net loss of 1.91 trillion won from a net profit of 554.74 billion won in the year-ago period.