Nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater generated by oil drilling have leaked from a North Dakota pipeline, an official said Wednesday, the largest such spill since the state’s oil boom began and nearly three times worse than previous record spills. Two creeks have been affected, but the full environmental effect might not be clear for months.
Operator Summit Midstream Partners detected the pipeline spill on Jan. 6, about 15 miles north of Williston, and told health officials then. Officials said they were not given a full account of the size until Tuesday.
Cleanup has begun and inspectors have been monitoring the area, but it will be difficult to measure the effects on the environment and wildlife until ice melts, said Dave Glatt, chief of the North Dakota Department of Health’s environmental health section. Some previous saltwater spills have taken years to clean up.
“This is not something we want to happen in North Dakota,” Glatt said.
At the moment, the spill does not threaten public drinking water or human health, Glatt said. He said a handful of farmers have been asked to keep their livestock away from the two creeks, the smaller of which will be drained.
The saltwater, known as brine, is an unwanted byproduct of oil and natural gas production that is much saltier than sea water and may also contain petroleum and residue from hydraulic fracturing operations.
The new spill is almost three times larger than one that fouled a portion of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in July.
— Associated Press
EBay plans to cut 2,400 jobs, or 7 percent of its staff, in the first quarter to simplify its structure and boost profit ahead of a planned separation of its business.
The e-commerce company also reported Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net income rose 10 percent on the continued strength of its PayPal payments business, which it expects to spin off in the second half of the year.
The e-commerce company said the job cuts fall across its marketplaces, PayPal and enterprise businesses. The San Jose-based company announced plans Wednesday to spin off or sell the enterprise unit, which develops online shopping sites for brick-and-mortar retailers.
EBay has been under pressure to improve profitability from its largest activist investor, Carl Icahn, who has a nearly 8 percent stake in the company.
Icahn has pushed eBay to sell off PayPal, which is eBay’s best-performing unit. Total payment volume grew 24 percent in the fourth quarter and revenue rose to $2.2 billion, about 45 percent of total revenue for the quarter.
PayPal services $1 of every $6 spent online. It collects fees from more than 162 million users who send money to other users and pay for goods and services in more than 200 markets.
Meanwhile, eBay said its net income in the October-to-December quarter came to $936 million, or 75 cents per share, from $850 million, or 65 cents per share in same quarter the year before. Revenue rose 9 percent, to $4.92 billion from $4.53 billion.
— Associated Press
● Standard & Poor’s agreed to pay the U.S. government and two states more than $77 million to settle charges tied to its ratings of mortgage-backed securities. In its first enforcement action against a major rating agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused S&P of fraudulent misconduct, saying the company loosened standards to drum up business in 2011 and 2012. The agreement requires S&P to pay more than $58 million to the SEC, $12 million to New York and $7 million to Massachusetts.
● Credit card issuer Discover Financial Services reported a 33 percent drop in quarterly profit as it set aside $457 million to cover bad loans in the fourth quarter, up 29 percent from a year earlier. Discover’s net income allocated to shareholders fell to $392 million, or 87 cents per share, from $588 million, or $1.23 per share, a year earlier. Discover’s revenue, net of interest expense, fell 4.3 percent, to $2.04 billion.
● Google and Viacom won the dismissal of a nationwide privacy lawsuit accusing them of illegally tracking the Internet activity of children who visited Nickelodeon’s Web site so as to send targeted advertising. U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler in Newark, N.J., found no showing that Google and Viacom could identify which children streamed specific videos or played specific video games, as opposed to identifying children generally.
● American Express plans to cut more than 4,000 jobs across the company this year, a company spokeswoman said. The cuts would represent about 6 percent of American Express’s total head count, based on the company’s latest annual report. The company will take a $313 million pre-tax charge in the fourth quarter, partly as a result of the cuts.
● The founder of 4chan — the popular, if at times notorious, online message board — is retiring as the site’s administrator. Christopher Poole launched 4chan in 2003 when he was 15. The site lets users post messages and photos anonymously. Poole, known on the site as “moot,” said in a post on 4chan’s news blog that a team of volunteers will take on his responsibilities. Since its launch, 1.7 billion posts have been published on 4chan, which has more than 1.2 million daily visitors, Poole said.
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Weekly jobless claims.
● 10 a.m.: Weekly mortgage rates.
● Earnings: Capital One, Starbucks, United Continental, Verizon Communications.