Delegates from international energy agencies and major oil companies are gathered in Abu Dhabi for an annual energy conference.
Statoil Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund said more should be done to exploit natural gas reserves.
He said the world could experience greater energy efficiency, cut carbon dioxide emissions and ensure energy resources are widely available by reducing gas flaring during oil production.
"I would like to highlight the work being done to utilize stranded and associated gas that today is flared. This gas can be used and should not be wasted," he said. "Today the energy of gas that is flared in Africa could provide 50 percent of the continent's total energy use."
A working group in Abu Dhabi, said the energy company, kicked off the U.N. International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had said tackling energy poverty was one of his top issues for 2012.
Ban in November called for universal access to modern energy services, a doubling in energy efficiency standards and a doubling of the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.