* Expanded Russian pipeline started in Jan
* Independents got bigger import quotas for 2018 (Recasts, adds comment, context)
BEIJING, Feb 8 (Reuters) - China imported a record volume of crude oil in January, data showed on Thursday, as independent refiners raced to shore up supplies after receiving higher quotas for 2018 and as a Russian pipeline expansion started up.
Imports rose 20 percent year-on-year to a record 40.64 million tonnes, or 9.57 million barrels per day (bpd), according to data from the General Administration of Customs on Thursday.
That compares with 33.7 million tonnes, or about 7.94 million barrels per day (bpd) in December and beats the previous record set in March 2017 of 9.17 million barrels per day.
The buying spree came after China raised its 2018 crude oil import quota for the country's independent refiners by 55 percent over 2017, giving them a larger portion of the global market.
Russia, the nation's top supplier last year, also ramped up imports through its expanded Siberian pipeline last month.
"The independents should be a major factor. They tend to increase imports in the first two months of the year, and some new players got quotas," said Sengyick Tee, senior director SIA Energy.
(tonne=7.3 barrels of crude oil) (Reporting by Josephine Mason and Dominique Patton; editing by Richard Pullin)