Wartsila has become the first non-oil producing company to join the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership.

The Finnish firm has joined the partnership as an associated partner, a move that the World Bank hopes will boost its efforts to reduce levels of natural gas flaring around the world and at the same time improve access to electricity.

Up until recently, only oil producing companies and countries were allowed to join the GGFR partnership.

“We welcome Wärtsilä as the first GGFR associated partner and look forward to working with them to increase access to much needed electricity in developing countries around the world,” said Somit Varma, the World Bank Group’s Director for Oil, Gas, Mining and Chemicals. “Gas flaring harms the environment and wastes a valuable and cleaner resource that can be used for more productive purposes.”

Natural gas can be produced as a byproduct of the oil-drilling process and is often flared – usually because of a lack of regulation or infrastructure required to turn it into a useful commodity. Current natural gas flaring levels produce around 400 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, according to the GGFR.

“As an associated partner of the GGFR, we will be able to contribute to reducing flaring through our know-how in power generation,” said Vesa Riihimäki, Group Vice President, Wärtsilä Power Plants. “If associated gas can be used in power generation instead of being flared into the atmosphere, an oil-field’s emissions can be significantly reduced. At the same time, there are obvious economical benefits to be gained.”

Wärtsilä’s dual-fuel technology can convert associated gas to electricity, while its gas-diesel technology offers fuel flexibility, enabling the engines to run on any combination of liquid fuel and associated gas. This flexibility is essential for oil and gas companies operating in environments where the associated gas volumes are constantly changing.

Wärtsilä recently won a contract to convert an oil-fired power plant at an Ecuadorian oil field to run on associated gas.