Refiners cut R

South Korean refiners scaled back their research and development expenditures last year due to sluggish earnings, industry data showed Tuesday.

According to the data, SK Innovation Co., the holding company of South Korea's biggest refiner SK Energy Co., spent 149.4 billion won (US$ 130.8 million) in research and development in 2012, down 2.8 percent from 153.8 billion won a year ago.

Last year's sluggish earnings dampened the investment sentiment of SK Innovation, which had, until 2011, increased its R&D expenditure by an annual average of more than 20 percent since 2008 when it spent 79.1 billion won on R&D, market watchers said.

GS Caltex Co., the second-largest refiner, decreased its investment in research and development by 7.6 percent to 43.4 billion won in 2012 from 47 billion won in 2011. In 2011, the refiner raised its R&D spending by 26 percent compared to the previous year.

The R&D expenditure of No. 4 refiner Hyundai Oilbank Co. fell 13.9 percent to 10.5 billion won last year, with that of S-Oil Corp., the third-largest refiner, dropping 9.3 percent to 9.7 billion won.