Research on nanotechnology application in the oil and gas industry has been growing rapidly in the past decade, as evidenced by the number of scientific articles published in the field. With oil and gas reserves harder to find, access, and produce, the pursuit
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Research on nanotechnology application in the oil and gas industry has been growing rapidly in the past decade, as evidenced by the number of scientific articles published in the field. With oil and gas reserves harder to find, access, and produce, the pursuit of more game-changing technologies that can address the challenges of the industry has stimulated this growth. Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize the petroleum industry both upstream and downstream, including exploration, drilling, production, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR), as well as refinery processes. It provides a wide range of alternatives for technologies and materials to be utilized in the petroleum industry. Nanoscale materials in various forms such as solid composites, complex fluids, and functional nanoparticle-fluid combinations are key to the new technological advances. This paper aims to provide a state-of-the-art review on the application of nanoparticles and technology in the petroleum industry, and focuses on enhanced oil recovery. We briefly summarize nanotechnology application in exploration and reservoir characterization, drilling and completion, production and stimulation, and refinery. Thereafter, this paper focuses on the application of nanoparticles in EOR. The different types of nanomaterials, e.g., silica, aluminum oxides, iron oxide, nickel oxide, titanium oxide, zinc oxide, zirconium oxide, polymers, and carbon nanotubes that have been studied in EOR are discussed with respect to their properties, their performance, advantages, and disadvantages. We then elaborate upon the parameters that will affect the performance of nanoparticles in EOR, and guidelines for promising recovery factors are emphasized. The mechanisms of the nanoparticles in the EOR processes are then underlined, such as wettability alteration, interfacial tension reduction, disjoining pressure, and viscosity control. The objective of this review is to present a wide range of knowledge and expertise related to the nanotechnology application in the petroleum industry in general, and the EOR process in particular. The challenges and future research directions for nano-EOR are pinpointed.