Oil Detection Canines


Response to the Gulf of Mexico Spill

In 2010, industry created four (4) Joint Industry Task Forces (JITF) in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The American Petroleum Institute (API) chose K2 Solutions, in partnership with Owens Coastal Consultants (OCC), to develop an oil detection canine capability and to perform field trials. The field trials included Wide Area Searches (WAS) and Delineated Surveys to locate target oil that was both surface and subsurface. Out of 704 targets placed, the canine had a 99.7% success rate.

Read More:

Environmental Coastal & Offshore Magazine: Oil Detection and Delineation Using Canine Detection (or K-9 SCAT) Teams (March 2016, pg. 28)

NOAA Response & Restoration: Exxon Valdez: Using Dogs to Find Oil During Spill Response (May 2017)

Canine, Patton, performing a Wide Area Search at the S.S. Arrow oil spill site


How do they work?

Oil located by Pepper, 2017. Photo credit – Paul Bunker

Canine Oil Detection Teams conduct an off-leash WAS to validate the areas for No Detectable Oil (NDO), surface or subsurface. If oil is located by a WAS, the team will perform on-leash Delineation Surveys through search patterns to identify the footprint and locations of the spill. These canines have demonstrated the ability to detect subsurface oil at a minimum of three feet below the surface – deeper than three feet during deployments. Additionally, the Canine Oil Detection Team has the ability to detect oil underwater in shallow river, lake or shoreline areas.

K2 Teams can support pipeline integrity management in wetlands and scrub land, where aerial or ground observers may not be able to detect surface or subsurface oil, as well as difficult terrain such as vegetated bedrock, boulders or rip rap. They have the proven potential to support pipeline integrity management onshore and in shallow water pipelines particularly in the following areas:

• Routine inspection, as part of an integrity management plan
• Where corrosion has been identified by an In-Line Inspection (ILI) and a verification of “no leak” is required
• Where coating problems have been identified by above-ground surveys
• Pipelines that cannot be “pigged”
• Delineation of the area of a subsurface leak
• Locations with poor cathodic protection coverage
• Cases where there are suspected “illegal traps” and theft
• Following a hydrostatic test (hydro-test)


Patton receiving commands from boat in Canada, 2016

Canine Oil Detection Teams:

• Work in all conditions including snow and ice
• Can detect subsurface hydrocarbons in parts per million (ppm)
• Can be imprinted to detect multiple target scents
• Can inspect up to 10 kilometers of pipeline per day, individually or in pairs
• Quickly pinpoint areas of high concentration to approximate the leak location
• Available for worldwide deployment on short notice