Research to date
Since 2007, Penspen, Manchester Jetline, and Newcastle University have been researching the feasibility of using dogs for leak detection. The results gathered during the research verified and quantified the dogs’ accuracy and reliability in locating a leak on a pipeline. The results confirmed that trained dogs can be deployed along pipelines as a reliable and accurate leak detection tool; a dog is 96 per cent reliable in detecting leaks as small as 0.07 ml.
How it works
Each dog is initially trained for six weeks to become a professional pipeline sniffer dog. The training is based around a single ‘target’ scent (for example, jet fuel). The ability to detect this scent is forever imprinted on the dog, but they have the ability to detect multiple scents: training the dog to detect another scent (for example, diesel) takes another two weeks. This means a pipeline operator can send samples of its product to a specialist trainer who would teach a dog to detect the target scents, confirming the dog’s reliability and accuracy in locating the product before it is deployed by the operator.
The actual field work is simple: the sniffer dog and handler conduct an above-ground survey along a pipeline right-of-way, similar to a line walk. The location of any escaping, or stagnant product is quickly pinpointed by the dog.