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August 27, 2009

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Oil: Millions of years in the making

THE National Aquatics Center, better known as the "Water Cube," amazed the world at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. At next year's World Expo Shanghai, a very similar "Oil Cube" will be shining along the Huangpu River. Although small in comparison to the 80,000-square-meter Olympic venue, the "Oil Cube" will be no less fancy and be even more interesting.

Do you ever stop to think about petroleum and its impact on people's daily lives?

Or do you just think it's something that comes out of a pipe when you fill up your car or motorcycle.

Can you imagine the complicated process of millions of years that has resulted in the petroleum we use today?

At the 2010 event, all these questions will be answered in interesting ways in the Oil Pavilion built by China National Petroleum Corp, China Petrochemical Corp and China National Offshore Oil Corp, the three Chinese oil industry giants.

The 4,000-square-meter pavilion is sure to be the "oldest" among all the pavilions, because it will showcase the more than 500 million years of history of the formation of the petroleum.

The pavilion will be showing how the product can make our lives better, with the theme "Oil - Extending City Dreams."

As visitors approach the pavilion they will be able to catch the distinctive smell of petroleum. The facade of the pavilion, which is also a screen at night, is made from petroleum-based product. And pipes, also made of petroleum, will cross over each other and cover the surface of the pavilion.

Drills and valves, elements relating to the oil industry, will be installed on each of the pipes.

A huge triangular LED screen will display scenes of oil exploration, reminding people of the early "petroleum era" in China in the 1960s.

One highlight of the pavilion is its facade that will keep changing colors at night to attract visitors.

The organizer of the pavilion says its screen will be more brilliant than that of the "Water Cube."

Some fountains surrounding the pavilion will operate in conjunction with the facade's changing colors.

Entering the pavilion, various exhibitions will tell of the close connections between petroleum and people's clothing, eating, living and means of travel that many people will be unaware of.

In the pavilion's waiting area, the exhibitions will focus on how much petroleum a person will consume throughout his or her life, says Kuang Jing, a public relations official for the pavilion.

For example, a bottle of water will be exhibited along with a one-third bottle of petroleum.

A movie or some pictures beside will show how that one-third bottle of petroleum will be used during the exploration, purification and transportation of the bottle of water.

A bottle of fruit juice will consume a half bottle of petroleum, says Kuang.

Another exhibition will display how the petroleum is harvested - demonstrating how explorers inject special glues into the ground to combine the petroleum together and make it easy to extract.

Another way is to send bacteria that eats petroleum into the ground and extract the product after they are brought back to the surface, he says.

In the main exhibition area, an eight-minute film will take visitors back to 13.7 billion years when the petroleum of today was still a plant or animal and tell the story of what happens during its long lifetime.

Visitors will also be invited to touch raw petroleum and Kuang says the feeling will be unforgettable.

Some special items made from petroleum will be showcased in the post-show area. One example is a carbon fiber glove invulnerable to knife attack.

Pavilion mascots and souvenirs made from petroleum will be given out free to visitors.


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