INTERVIEW-Mexico producing 2.55 mln bpd oil; output seen rising further -PEMEX
* Pemex says lower tax could hike investment to $35 bln in 2018 -CEO
* Pemex has no plan to buy more LNG due to pipe U.S. gas coming 2015 -CEO
DAEGU, South Korea, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Mexico is producing 2.55 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and output is expected to rise further by the end of this year, state-run oil monopoly Pemex said on Tuesday.
Any additional boost would lift the country's production further from a near 18-year low hit in July.
"Mexico has reversed the decline and now we are trending up in terms of production," Director General of Pemex Emilio Lozoya told Reuters in an interview.
Pemex sees the country's crude production rising to 2.6 million bpd by the end of the year, Lozoya said, up about 5 percent from output in July of 2.48 million bpd.
Pemex, the world's 10th biggest producer of crude oil according to OPEC, has seen output decline by a quarter from a peak of 3.4 million bpd in 2004.
Mexico's government last month proposed replacing state oil monopoly Pemex's heavy taxation scheme with a new, more flexible regime similar to those faced by private companies.
That in turn has been expected to free up Pemex to invest more of its own revenue to exploit new and mature oil and gas fields in a bid to stem its long output slide.
Pemex sees its exploration and production (E&P) investment increasing to $35 billion in 2018 from $25 billion this year, if the new tax proposals lead to a lower tax burden for the company and oil prices remain at current levels, Lozoya said.
"This will strengthen Pemex's balance sheet and our capacity to invest in exploration and production," said Lozoya, who is visiting South Korea for the World Energy Congress held in the city of Daegu, about 300 kilometres southeast of Seoul.
The government collects about a third of its budget from Pemex in taxes. Pemex will obtain profits of between $7 billion and $9 billion a year from 2015 if the new tax structure is approved as presented, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said last month.
Asked about any plan to buy more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet growing gas demand in Mexico, Lozoya said: "No. We are building large pipeline infrastructures that connect the U.S. with Mexico. Natural gas demand in early 2015 will be met by U.S. imports at cheaper prices obviously."
Several pipeline projects for sending U.S. gas to Mexico are expected to be finished by the end of 2014. The projects could add another 3.5 billion cubic feet per day of export capacity to Mexico, doubling the existing capability, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in March.
In July, U.S. natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico ran about 2 billion cubic feet per day, the EIA said.
Mexico imports LNG at its Pacific coast Manzanillo terminal and the Gulf coast Altamira terminal to augment its strapped natural gas supplies.
(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Tom Hogue)