Aerial Photos: Aruba Petroleum Barnett Shale Operations

You can read about the Ruggiero’s experience in an account written by Christine on the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project website.

September 16, 2009, Christine Ruggiero received a call from her neighbor informing her that her fence had been cut, her horses were loose and there were bulldozers on her property. That’s how she learned that Aruba Petroleum was taking almost half of their 10 acres.

An Aruba Petroleum employee, Kasey Denman, aka Pinocchio, told the Ruggiero family earlier that Aruba probably wouldn’t use their property for drilling. Understandably, the Ruggieros were upset. When Tim started photographing the destruction of his property, Pinocchio threatened him with a restraining order that would prevent him from coming home during the 4 months they were drilling.

Since the day Aruba Petroleum invaded the Ruggieros, they have been subjected to overpowering diesel fumes, destruction of their property, a drilling waste spill, noise, another drilling waste spill, fugitive emission fumes, endless lies and much more.

Currently, the emissions from Aruba‘s wells are constantly pumping horrible smelling gas into the air. Christine suffers from headaches and blurry vision. Nine year-old Reilly sometimes feels as if she can’t inhale fully. Tim has headaches, numbness in his extremities and sometimes looses his balance.

They call the TCEQ hotline and true to their word, a TCEQ inspector comes out right away but nothing changes.

The following map shows the placement of Aruba‘s well on the Ruggiero property which is outlined in red. This well has rendered about half of their original 10 acres useless.

Recently, Tim went up in a small plane and took the following aerial photos. Click to view full screen.

In this first picture you can see the Ruggiero place on the left near the top with the Aruba well to the left of their house. Across the pond is their neighbor’s home where Aruba placed the well right in the neighbor’s front yard to ruin the view of their pond. To the left of the neighbor’s well is another well. The Ruggiero’s are surrounded.

The Ruggiero place is right in the middle of this next picture. Find the yellow, rectangular tank at the end of the well then look right above that to see the runoff from the 2nd spill. That long straight trench was dug by Aruba. Further up you see a tree line. That’s Denton Creek which feeds into Lake Grapevine.

A little closer view of the spill area. There is a pipeline that runs from the well across their driveway making them completely surrounded by drilling activity.

The spill from another angle.

Look at this next picture carefully. Click for a full screen view. Find the dark area on the well site. That’s the drilling waste pit. (HERE’s a picture of the pit.) Look to the right of the pit on the other side of the trees and you will see, right at the edge of the trees, a shiny oblong area. That’s where the drilling mud shot out (VIDEO) and spilled out of the waste pit. It ran down through the trees so Aruba dug another pit down there.

You can see the “pit annex” a little closer in this next picture.

The next photo shows another Aruba well site where they are landfarming in a flood plain area.

A wide angle shot:

I saved the best for last. Aruba told the Ruggiero’s that there was no place else they could put the well other than on nearly 5 of their 10 acres. Aruba has leased 950 acres of Herb Wright’s minerals. Wright sectioned off about 50 acres around his house as a no drill zone. As you can see, there was just no where else out in that area where Aruba could have drilled.

Also see: Tales from the Barnett Shale on EARTHblog.

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. Jerry Lobdill says

    Would you say that Aruba is a typical operator in Wise County, or are they substantially different from others?

    I don't see how they could be much worse.

    Don't surface rights owners have any rights at all? How can they do this to someone's property? Isn't this America? (Yes, and that's recently become a problem for human "citizens".)

  2. TXsharon says

    I would say they are fairly typical for the smaller operators. You can see my posts about Braden Exploration for another example. Devon does do a better job.

    Surface owners do have some rights but it's tough getting enforcement.

  3. Tim Ruggiero says

    The picture of the landfarming- notice the pools and pockets of water to the right and left of where the landfarming is. On the right, it's right off the gravel road ARUBA uses to access their two other drilling sites.

    That land area at the intersection of the two roads is saturated, causing the water to pool. Notice also the vegetation around in those areas is much darker-that's because it's been sitting in that water- probably produced water – for some time.

    There are more and more reports coming in about the tanker trucks dumping the produced water into Denton Creek, and along side roadways. This is exactly what it appears to be here in that picture.

  4. Anonymous says

    Companies know what they are doing is wrong; BUT they have made huge investments assuming natural gas is the boom that will save us from dependence on foreign oil. Now…sad surprise. The industry cannot uniformly bring up the gas without environmental damage. A fine mess in every way.

  5. Christine Heinrichs says

    That this is continuing with no restraint by authorities is beyond belief. Thank you, Sharon, for keeping it in the public eye.

  6. Anonymous says

    Big Gas operates just like the Mafia. Always have, always will! They do what ever they want to whenever they want to. Nobody does anything for fear of reprisals–and reprisals will happen, if you interfere.

  7. Anonymous says

    That's interesting, from what I have been reading this is all brought about by Christians and Republicans and large churches which have sold their minerals, surely, they are not violent people. I thought we were supposed to be the "radicals".

  8. MAID - mothers against irresponsible drilling says

    I think every time we put labels on things our movement take huge strides backwards, such as "Christians" or "Republicans". I happen to be a Christian Republican but hate what the industry has done to my family, my neighborhood and many other people who i do not even know. This industry does not discriminate – it affects Christians, non-Christians, churches or schools, liberals or conservatives, whites, blacks and any other ethnicity, rich areas or ghettos, rural or urban. We must all fight this together because each time we label we make divisions where we need unity. No one is being spared by the practices of O & G.

  9. TXsharon says

    I agree that we must all work together but we must all also look at our voting patterns. This issue is a political issue and so is the solution.

  10. Anonymous says

    My comment was meant to be facetious. I too am a Christian Conservative. It's nice to be on the "same side" with some of my more liberal friends on this one for a change and some of the brighter ones on the right. 😉 As hoaky as it sounds, if people from these two groups can come together on this issue, I believe we can demand, and get, change which will benefit every citizen of the shale.

  11. Sue Heavenrich says

    Am having a hard time getting my head around this: a man standing in his own yard taking photos of (whatever – it could be anything) is threatened with a restraining order??
    This should have hit the front page! I guess we really do have to change the "Pledge" to "allegiance to the corporations" and re-align ourselves with the Supremes as well as the gas companies.
    ~Sue (

  12. TXsharon says

    To me, the intimidation is one of the big, underreported stories and one reason Big Gas gets by with their bs.

  13. Anonymous says

    Living in Pennsylvania where gas drilling and Fracking is just beginning I saw how the property owners signed the gas leases with total disregard of the consequences to their property and the environment. It seems to me that the solution would have been not to sign a gas lease. Oh thats right it is American Greed that makes the world go round… You accepted their money now suffer the desimation of your land and natural resources.

  14. Anonymous says

    Sludge ponding is illegal anyways…what's up…besides polluted toxic fumes…gasp…cough cough….more dangerous than those terrible cigarettes..cough!