In this study, a novel technique of low salinity hot water (LSHW) injection with addition of nanoparticles has been developed to examine the synergistic effects of thermal energy, low salinity water (LSW) flooding, and nanoparticles for enhancing heavy oil recovery, while optimizing the operating parameters for such a hybrid enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method. Experimentally, one-dimensional displacement experiments under different temperatures (17 °C, 45 °C, and 70 °C) and pressures (about 2000–4700 kPa) have been performed, while two types of nanoparticles (i.e., SiO2 and Al2O3) are, respectively, examined as the additive in the LSW. The performance of LSW injection with and without nanoparticles at various temperatures is evaluated, allowing optimization of the timing to initiate LSW injection. The corresponding initial oil saturation, production rate, water cut, ultimate oil recovery, and residual oil saturation profile after each flooding process are continuously monitored and measured under various operating conditions. Compared to conventional water injection, the LSW injection is found to effectively improve heavy oil recovery by 2.4–7.2% as an EOR technique in the presence of nanoparticles. Also, the addition of nanoparticles into the LSHW can promote synergistic effect of thermal energy, wettability alteration, and reduction of interfacial tension (IFT), which improves displacement efficiency and thus enhances oil recovery. It has been experimentally demonstrated that such LSHW injection with the addition of nanoparticles can be optimized to greatly improve oil recovery up to 40.2% in heavy oil reservoirs with low energy consumption. Theoretically, numerical simulation for the different flooding scenarios has been performed to capture the underlying recovery mechanisms by history matching the experimental measurements. It is observed from the tuned relative permeability curves that both LSW and the addition of nanoparticles in LSW are capable of altering the sand surface to more water wet, which confirms wettability alteration as an important EOR mechanism for the application of LSW and nanoparticles in heavy oil recovery in addition to IFT reduction.

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