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MRO and Partners Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

MRO and Partners Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

January, 2020 — Houston, Texas

More than 45 Houston-based energy companies, leveraging their global reach and scale, have formed a coalition named the Oil & Gas Trafficking Awareness Group (OGTAG) to shine a light on the crime of human trafficking, an issue surging in Houston and around the world.

"It's time for companies to join forces to help stop human trafficking in Houston, and I'm proud that Marathon Oil is part of this important effort."
Marathon Oil CEO Lee Tillman

January is national Human Trafficking Month, and OGTAG this week launched the Energy Empowers Freedom tour to raise awareness of human trafficking in the oil & gas industry. The Mobile Museum is courtesy of the Freedom Driver's Project, a mobile exhibit created by the trucking industry to raise awareness of trafficking. The exhibit includes interactive educational materials and artifacts from actual trafficking cases to share the stories of victims. The Mobile Museum is touring across Houston with stops including Port Houston, Marathon Oil, Seadrill, Shell, Weatherford, and Chevron, to educate oil & gas employees and the community.

Human Trafficking is an Epidemic

  • Human trafficking is defined by the United Nations as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by improper means—such as force, abduction, fraud or coercion—for an improper purpose, including forced labor or sexual exploitation.
  • It is estimated that human trafficking affects more than 25 million people worldwide.
  • Human trafficking occurs in all 50 states, with Texas having one of the highest rates.
  • Human trafficking is one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world and is estimated to generate $150 billion a year, making it the second most profitable criminal activity in the world behind illegal drug trade.

"We need to leverage our networks and our workplaces to raise the awareness on what has become a human rights crisis," said Marathon Oil CEO Lee Tillman. The Energy Empowers Freedom tour starts the conversation and provides the resources to educate our communities on this issue and provide practical steps on how to report it."

CEO Lee Tillman (right) speaks to attendees at Energy Empowers Freedom Week event.

OGTAG has worked collaboratively with local officials, law enforcement, non-profits, and the community at large to end this epidemic and support human trafficking victims.

"Houston is the energy capital of the world, and I applaud the energy industry's efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking and work toward eradicating these crimes in our society," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "The City of Houston has dedicated significant time and resources to anti-human trafficking efforts. We are fortunate that Houston also has exceptional corporate citizens taking the lead as OGTAG members work together to take a stand on this critical issue."

Alexandria Alvarez Gerbasi, OGTAG Co-Founder and OVS Group Chief Administrative Officer, explains that the first steps toward ending a global epidemic can begin in our local communities: "Trafficking victims come from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds," she said. "We want to be part of the solution and work collaboratively in our industry and with the Houston community to end this epidemic. Our goal for OGTAG and Energy Empowers Freedom Week is to positively impact the communities where we live and work through awareness, education, engagement, and investment in anti-trafficking initiatives."

Learn the Signs of Human Trafficking

Anyone can report suspicious activity by calling 911 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888

Signs may include:

  • A person has no personal possessions and is constantly being monitored;
  • A person is living and working onsite without the ability to leave;
  • There is visible verbal or physical abuse by a supervisor; and
  • A person is not given proper safety equipment.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline website includes additional information.


The Oil and Gas Trafficking Awareness Group (OGTAG) was formed in January 2017 to combat human trafficking in the oil and gas industry. The goal of the group is to discuss the role that the energy community can play in ending human trafficking and increasing safety by expanding awareness and affecting policies. OGTAG is an industry coalition that has grown to represent nearly 20 oil & gas operators and more than 25 oilfield service companies for a total of 45+ members. OGTAG's mission is carried out through four key areas to end human trafficking: awareness, education, engagement and investment.

The companies supporting Energy Empowers Freedom Week are Apache Corporation, BASF, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Crestwood Midstream Partners LP, Equinor, Exterran, Halliburton, Marathon Oil, More Than The Move Foundation, National Oilwell Varco, OVS Group, Port Houston, Schlumberger, Seadrill, Shell, Stupp Corporation, Total, and Weatherford.