YENAGOA, Nigeria, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Suspected militants have attacked an oil pipeline operated by a local affiliate of Shell in Nigeria's restive southern Niger Delta region, locals and a community group said on Monday.
Militants have attacked oil and gas facilities in the OPEC member's energy hub over the last few months, cutting the country's crude production -- which stood at 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) at the start of the year -- by around 700,000 bpd.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for a blast at the Trans Ramos Pipeline near Odimodi, operated by Shell's joint venture SPDC, which locals said happened in the early hours of Sunday shortly after 1:00 a.m. (0000 GMT). Shell said the line was closed for repairs.
Endoro New-world, a local, said the blast shook nearby homes and created a "ball of fire".
"At sunrise, a group from the community in company of the SPDC surveillance team was able to locate the site of the blast," he said.
Community leader Godspower Gbenekama also said residents heard a loud explosion, adding that there had been an oil spill.
Shell issued a statement on Monday in which it said it was "investigating the reported incident".
"The Trans Ramos Pipeline (TRP) transports oil to Forcados Terminal and has been shut since the leak on the Forcados export line on February 14, 2016," it said.
(Reporting by Tife Owolabi and Anamesere Igboeroteonwu; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Louise Heavens)
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