Iraq's August oil exports rise helped by southern fields

* August oil exports rise by 255,000 bpd from July * Basra shipments rebound to 2.308 million bpd * Iraq aiming for 2.9 million bpd exports by year end By Ahmed Rasheed BAGHDAD, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Iraq's oil exports rose to an average of 2.579 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, the oil ministry said on Sunday, due to increased shipments from southern oil fields which have helped it move closer to a year-end target. Exports were higher than in July when Iraq exported 2.324 million bpd on average. OPEC's second-largest producer wants to export 2.9 million bpd per day by the end of the year. August oil exports, which have generated revenues of $8.3 billion, are the highest in months due to increased shipments from the southern ports, oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said. Iraq shipped 2.308 million bpd from the southern oil hub of Basra, up from 2.144 million the previous month, a statement from state-run South Oil Co.'s media office showed. "Shipments from southern oilfields were higher by around 58,000 barrels than what has been set at the August loading program," the statement said. Iraq expects output to rise by 400,000 bpd by the end of this year due to the start-up of the Royal Dutch Shell operated Majnoon oilfield in southern Iraq and other smaller sources. Garraf oilfield in the south, developed by Petronas and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd started production of 35,000 barrels per day on Saturday, Jihad said. Iraq is planning to conduct maintenance this month at its southern terminals to expand export capacity but has said exports would continue normally. Iraq needs to upgrade its long-neglected energy infrastructure to boost production and consolidate its position as a major oil producer, but export bottlenecks and repeated attacks on a pipeline to Turkey have so far kept the country short of its 2013 target.