FORT SMITH, Ark. – Mike Oxley, like so many energy pioneers, is not afraid to take a risk.
Thirty-five years ago, Oxley and his wife Linda borrowed $6 million and put everything they had into starting New Prospect Company. Just two months after they started in October of 1981, the Great Oilfield Depression started January 1, 1982.
They had put everything they owned into the company and they were faced with seriously devalued drilling equipment and a $180,000 monthly loan payment (with 21.25 percent interest). Nationally, the drill count dropped 90 percent until it bottomed out in 1986.
“We got into the contract drilling business at precisely the worst time possible,” Oxley said.
Most of his fellow drilling contractors went bankrupt. Some went bankrupt several times.
How did Oxley survive?
By relying on his deep-rooted character and the strong work ethic he grew up with in Tulsa.
The Oxley Family celebrated the 35th anniversary of New Prospect Company last week in a special dinner in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the company is headquartered. One by one, a host of long-time employees thanked and hugged Mike Oxley for his determination to weather the ups and down of the energy business and his devotion to his employees. He is in the process of turning over the company to younger members of his family.
In a speech at the dinner, Oxley painted a grim picture of the current state of the oil and gas business. He blamed the Obama Administration for hindering the quest for energy independence and he said that Saudi Arabia was successfully manipulating world energy markets to damage the American industry.
“Once again, another bust cycle is well underway and bankruptcies are running rampant,” Oxley said.
But Oxley refused to be pessimistic about the future. He said the downturn will run its course and do great damage to America’s energy independence but eventually the price of oil and natural gas will come back and eventually reach new records.
New Prospect Company provides experienced, expert personnel across multiple disciplines to assist clients evaluate, design and execute their projects. Services include drilling, completion, production and oil/gas well construction. The company has in-house petroleum engineering personnel and offers lease operation management.
Oxley, whose family founded the Oxley Foundation and Oxley Nature Center in Tulsa, thanked his long-time employees and he credited God’s grace for the long-term success of his energy business.