Our Heritage
and Drilling Story

1981 - 1997

Virtue Energy Services has a rich history in oil and gas drilling.
With the backdrop of historically high oil and gas prices in the late 1970’s and early 80’ securing drilling rigs in the Arkoma basin became difficult, so a small group of oil and gas investors decided to start a drilling rig company to assure rig availability for their own prospects. This venture was spearheaded by Mike Oxley, our founder and still Chairman of the board. Then, Mike was only 22 years old, freshly graduated from the University of Oklahoma with Petroleum Engineering and MBA degrees. The inspiration of the company name, New Prospect Drilling (“NPD”), did not come entirely from oil prospecting, but from a famous Thoroughbred racehorse (Mr. Prospector).
It all started in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1981. After the 1973 Middle East oil embargo that OPEC imposed on the US, oil prices skyrocketed from $20/barrel to $60/barrel in a matter of months. This spurred an initiative for the US to become energy self-sufficient. The oil and gas industry reacted by increasing investment to bring more supply of hydrocarbons into the market. The upswing continued into 1980 and by then oil prices were at an all-time high of $114/barrel. At cycle high, the rig count was 4,521 in the US.
Full of enthusiasm, Mike Oxley secured bank financing to purchase and place rig 1 in June of 1981 for Tenneco Oil Company and soon after, rig 2 on October of 1981 for Samson Resources. The company only enjoyed two months of “good times” before the great oilfield depression began on January 1, 1982. Our nation’s rig count dropped steadily for five years before bottoming in 1986. At cycle low, the rig count was down to 686, or 85% from the 1981 peak. During that period, only a few drilling contractors avoided filing bankruptcy. In fact, several went bankrupt more than once. NPD was not well capitalized. It was saddled with tremendous debt since inception and was paying 21.25% (prime rate plus 0.75%). So how did the company survive the 17-year depression?

The answer is complex, but in a nutshell, that time period tested our core values and personal traits which revolved around relentlessly honoring and protecting our name and reputation, and resolute focus on survival. That downturn came to define and cement our company ethos of teamwork and entrepreneurship that to this day, continues to guide us.
Eventually, hard work paid off.

After arduous work and steady growth, NPD persevered in building its rig fleet through the 80s and 90s from two to seven rigs. In 1998, the company sold its assets to Nabors Drilling, including tool pushers and rig crew personnel. Still holding other oilfield equipment, the company changed its name to New Prospect Company. Within months after the sale, many of NPD employees that transitioned to Nabors were unemployed. Mike Oxley, upon learning of this, told them to come back to work for NPC, even though there was not any work for them to do, we would figure it out together.

There was no grand strategy or a business plan in place. Not all business decisions shall be driven by financial reasons. We are loyal to our team members. Our previous Tool Pushers were highly experienced and many operators in the Arkoma and Anadarko basins thought highly of New Prospect’s team. In 1999, NPC organically pivoted toward a wellsite consulting services company as a vehicle to keep that team of six members employed. The company continued to grow year after year and is still going strong today.

1998 - PRESENT

2018 - PRESENT

Molded by our history enduring industry downturns and making the most of the upturns...
We saw an opportunity to acquire drilling and workover rigs starting in 2015 with the goal of filling the void of the many oilfield service companies that left the Arkoma basin around that same period of time. We did not set out to be just a drilling contractor, or a workover rig company. Our goal was to offer a broader scope of services and solutions to the operators in the Arkoma basin and beyond. Being a natural gas producing basin, Arkoma operators must be lean and efficient in order to make their investments economic.
Our effort was largely made possible by the loyal employees and associates in our team, some even from the 80’s and 90’s. Our goal of becoming a one-stop solution for local Arkoma operators was anchored by never compromising our morals, principles and ethics towards our employees and customers. These themes influenced our company name: Virtue, officially founded in 2018.
Today, Virtue Energy Services is a drilling, workover, snubbing, compression, oilfield rental equipment, trucking, water hauling, roustabout, P&A, and lease operation management company, among other customized services for Arkoma basin operators in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Our goal is to bring oilfield solutions to our customer base in a cost-effective manner at the highest standard of quality.


Jose Dominguez

Chief Executive Officer


Chief Financial Officer

Mason Brooks

EHS Manager

Robert Zeiler

Business Development Manager