Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Shell was training a dachshund and two border collies to detect oil spills beneath snow and ice back in 2012

The dogs' ability to sniff out oil spills beneath snow and ice has been tested and paid for by Shell – and other oil companies and government research organisations – in preparation for the industry's entry into the forbidding Arctic terrain.

The company's oil spill response plan, approved by the interior department last month, calls for a fleet of vessels to be on standby at all times, as well as for the construction of a special capping system that would be able to capture and store up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day.

"Shell and others are looking mainly at technology like advanced radars [and] satellite to detect oil under ice," Smith wrote in an email.

The absence of canine participation is in no way the dogs' fault. The dogs – border collies Jippi and Blues, and dachshund Tara – were able to pick up the scent of oil up to 5km downwind of a spill, the researchers found.

They held up well to long flights, -40C temperatures, and bumpy snowmobile journeys. They were also able to focus on their mission – and did not go tearing off after polar bear or seals, the study said.


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