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Georgetown, Guyana, 18 May 2021 – Guyanese women have formalized their approach to securing a seat at the table of participation in the country’s burgeoning oil sector through electing the executive members of the Women In Oil and Gas Guyana (WIOGGY) during their Annual Membership Meeting held on Sunday, May 16, 2021.

Prominent businesswoman, and the founder of the Loncke Group Abbigale Loncke was elected to serve as the first Chairwoman of the organisation. Abbigale heads a business enterprise consisting of three companies, as its Chief Executive Officer. Her fastest-growing firm is MBW Energy Support Services, a comprehensive oil and gas service advisory that is an industry leading authority providing guidance for companies entering the Guyanese energy market. She has also recently joined Highland Poe, whose portfolio offers professional services in strategic and diversity communications, federal government and regulatory affairs, and investor and capital markets consulting, as a senior member of its leadership with responsibility for its Guyana operations where she is based.

Women in Oil and Gas Guyana (WIOGGY) is an organization committed to abetting women in the energy and mineral industry, which was founded in 2020 by Dr. Dawn Stewart. WIOGGY provides opportunities for women to meet other professionals in the industry, works to increase the opportunities for women to enter the industry, and endeavours to increase their knowledge of issues within the oil and gas sector. The organisation’s mission is to encourage, unite and promote economic development for women in industry.

 Of the many benefits available to members, the foremost are the ability to gain a comprehensive overview of the emerging energy sector in Guyana and basic skills needed for personal and professional development. Membership also allows women to be empowered by women colleagues in the Oil and Gas Sector, explore current and future opportunities in this emerging space and network to improve their business and professional endeavours.

The WIOGGY elections also saw the elevation of several prominent women from various fields of endeavor to serve on this high-profile Board, including Dr. Melissa Varswyk as Vice Chairwoman, Adele Acosta as Secretary and Michelle A. Nicholas as Director of External Affairs. Melissa Varswyk is a medical doctor, entrepreneur, educator and philanthropist born in Georgetown, Guyana. She holds a Doctor of Medicine Degree and is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Georgetown American University.

Dr. Melissa Varswyk

Dr. Varswyk has extensive knowledge in the healthcare and associated training industries in Guyana and is currently working diligently to expand emergency response programs for the oil and gas, and other local industries. She is committed to producing innovative and creative solutions towards the transformative development of her country. This is reflected in her being selected for several local and international awards, most recently, the 25 Influential Women Leaders in Guyana award.

 Ms. Adele Acosta

Adele Acosta is an Attorney at Law with significant experience working in the Oil and gas industry in Trinidad and Tobago. She entered the industry in a technical capacity as a Process Plant Operations Technician; working in a practical and hands on capacity, out in the field; interacting with plant equipment, vessels and controls. She had the honour of training and working in prominent
petrochemical companies; such as Atlantic LNG and World GTL Trinidad Limited. She then specialized in the area of Law and Oil and Gas, through participating in the Oil and Gas specialist Legal Aid clinic; facilitated jointly by the Hugh Wooding Law School and PETROTIN (the then Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago).

Apart from her oil and gas industry knowledge and legal acumen, Adele brings to WIOGGY her knowledge of occupational safety and health, alternative dispute resolution and industrial relations skills.

   Michelle A. Nicholas

Michelle A. Nicholas is an award-winning leader and dedicated advocate of women and children’s issues. As the founder CEO of The Nico Consulting Group (TNC), a boutique consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, marketing and communications, and leadership development, she works closely with clients on a national, regional and international level. Her ability to increase client market shares while increasing their social responsibility speak to her commitment to creating sustainable partnerships for all.

Michelle has been recognized by the United States Embassy in Guyana, Caribbean Life, Business Council of Westchester, Women of Mission International and Face2Face Africa for her work in bridging the gap between available resources and those who need them. Most recently she co-created an award to honor Influential Women Leaders in Guyana who are impacting their companies and communities.

Chairwoman of the WIOGGY Board Abbigale Loncke spoke on the importance of inspiring women and girls, especially young professionals, to realise that, “they too have a role in the development of this sector, not only as employees, but as owners of businesses, as service providers through leveraging their technical skills and through becoming the individuals who will follow in the footsteps of these first members of the Board, to take the organisation way beyond these initial steps.”

“It is the building of capacity so that we can function that is integral to this entire conversation on Local Content,” Abbigale shared. We must empower women and girls to occupy the spaces being vied for in Guyana’s energy sector through equipping them to compete, while we work as a collective to ensure that these opportunities are available on an equitable basis.

The new executive has therefore advanced a plan that focuses on professional development and training for women for the immediate future of the organisation, and expresses confidence that through their efforts Guyana will realise a much more equitable involvement of women in this sector of the economy. To learn more about WIOGGY, you can visit www.wioggy.com.

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