Masela block in southern Maluku is believed to have one of the largest gas reserves in the country with contractors Inpex Corporation and Shell.
Rizal Ramli, when giving a lecture at the University of Pattimura Ambon on Saturday said the Masela block project has to be the motor of area and national industrial development.
It is a good momentum to change the paradigm in natural resources in Indonesia, he said.
"We have to leave behind the policy of making gas merely as an export commodity. Industry has to be built to increase added value," he said.
Rizal Ramli, who championed the call to build the Masela liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on shore, was given a warm traditional welcome on arrival in Maluku on Friday.
Rizal Ramli also took time to visit the University of Darussalam Ambon.
More than a thousand people crowded the auditorium of the Pattimura University repeatedly applauding when Rizal gave the general lecture on the Masela block.
"What Maluku feel we feel. Maluku feel bitter we share the bitterness," he said in local language.
"Maluku is sad, we are sad , Maluku happy, we are happy," he added in the same language to more applause of his listeners.
He said the question of on land or in sea is too simple as what is important is that the natural resources are used for the welfare of the people. Apparently he referred to heated debate on whether the LNG plant was to be built on land or off shore.
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) finally decided that the plant would be built on shore as strongly recommended by Rizal and Maluku community leaders against the proposal of Inpex and Shell.
Rizal said Indonesia has remained lagging behind as the country has exported its natural wealth without enough attempt to create added value.
Importing countries have gained more in added value from Indonesias natural wealth, he said.
He said development of the Masela block should be followed with development of downstream industry to process the gas.
"The benefit would be multiplied if the gas is processed into end products. Not to mention the benefit from indirect impact," he said.
He said with proper management , Maluku would grow to become an advanced region as the Masela block project would give birth to a new modern city.
For that purpose , Maluku should prepare itself with skilled human resources, he said.
The Masela block is expected to be important in the nations declining oil and gas industry as the next largest producing natural gas field.
Surveys said that the Masela block contains a vast amount of proven reserves, ranging from 6 to 12 trillion cubic feet ( Tcf ) of natural gas, two to four times the size of the nations current largest natural gas block, Mahakam.
The block, believed to be able to produce 2.5 - 7.5 million tons per year ( mtpa ) of LNG and 8,400 barrels oil equivalent ( Boe ) per day of condensates for the next 30 years.
Estimates put the cost of development the Masela block at between US$15 billion and US$22 billion.