MEXICO CITY, April 24 (Reuters) - Mexico's Pemex is on track to boost crude oil output by 530,000 barrels per day (bpd) by 2018, the state oil monopoly said on Wednesday.
That would be around 18 percent more than the average 2.55 million bpd it produced last year and closer to a peak of 3.38 million bpd in 2004.
Mexico is the world's No. 7 oil producer and a top exporter to the United States, but its energy minister has warned the country could become a net oil importer as early as 2018 if major new oil finds cannot be developed.
Carlos Morales, director of exploration and production at Pemex, told Reuters that the additional output expected to come online by the end of new President Enrique Pena Nieto's six-year term is consistent with the company's goal of ramping up production to 3 million bpd by then.
Morales pointed to output expected at two recently developed offshore Gulf of Mexico oilfields that should be flowing by 2016: 140,000 bpd at Tsimin-Xux and 130,000 bpd at Ayatsil-Tekel, both in shallow waters.
He said he expects production at the country's Chicontepec basin, an onshore field located in the east-central states of Veracruz and Puebla, to grow to 300,000 bpd from about 70,000 bpd.
Morales added that the company expects other mature, onshore fields to add another 130,000 bpd, though he didn't specify which ones.
"Those are the almost 600,000 barrels of new production that... would be coming online during this administration," he said.
The new forecast amounts to an upward revision for each of the fields Morales cited of between 25 and 48 percent, compared with estimates Pemex released early last year.
Pena Nieto, of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has said a sweeping energy reform aimed at luring private capital will be a top priority this year.
Mexico's government relies on oil revenues to fund about a third of the federal budget, and the heavy tax burden has limited Pemex's ability to fund new projects and raise output.