* Independent refineries ramp up output on robust margins
* Refinery output expected to rise further in fourth quarter
* Crude oil production drops in September (Updates with details, background)
BEIJING, Oct 19 (Reuters) - China’s refinery throughput hit a record daily high in September as some independent plants restarted operations after prolonged shutdowns over summer to shore up inventories amid better fuel demand and robust margins, data showed on Friday.
China’s crude oil throughout rose to 12.49 million barrels per day (bpd) in September, up from 11.85 million bpd in August, according to Reuters calculations based on National Bureau of Statistics data.
The higher processing rate came as China raised its crude oil imports to a four-month high
Year-to-date processing volumes rose 8.1 percent on a year earlier to 452.54 million tonnes, or 12.1 million bpd, the data showed.
China’s September domestic crude oil production fell 2.4 percent on a year earlier to 15.18 million tonnes, or 3.69 million bpd, according to the data.
Output in the first nine months came in at 141.13 million tonnes, down 1.9 percent from a year earlier. That equates to 3.77 million bpd.
Refinery output is expected to rise further in the fourth quarter as several state refiners resume operations after scheduled major overhauls.
These include PetroChina’s 130,000-bpd Daqing refinery in the northeast and the newly upgraded 200,000-bpd Huabei plant.
Natural gas production rose 8.5 percent in September from a year earlier to 12.2 billion cubic meters (bcm). Output for the year to date was 116.2 bcm, up 6.2 percent.
PetroChina has stepped up drilling at top gas field Changqing, which makes up about a quarter of the national total, and is aiming for record output this year to help meet a winter demand spike.
crude conversion tonne = 7.3 barrels Reporting by Hallie Gu and Aizhu Chen; editing by Richard Pullin