The world energy mix has been confronted with significant challenges since the international circumstances became increasingly complicated. Oil shale is a typical alternative resource to traditional oil, therefore, it is of great significance to re-evaluate its exploitation and utilization status and research trend under the new background. Through the bibliometric analysis of 944 articles on oil shale published between 2012 and 2022 collected from the Web of Science (WoS) database, this research has carried out a review on the global publication and research trend in oil shale relevant studies. It then investigated and compared the research characteristics in three major countries that carry out oil shale related research, to identify the opportunities of oil shale development in different nations under the restriction of diversified factors. The results show that during the last ten years, research on oil shale has experienced a continuous growth in publication quantity and greatly contributed to the oil shale development with the production of highest cited studies. As for the regional characteristics, Estonia focuses on the comprehensive utilization of oil shale and stands out in its engagement in the environment protection, while China and the United States are still accumulating the applied technological research and fundamental science knowledge and conservatively develop the utilization of oil shale. Although different regions have developed different research priorities and strategies due to the differentiated resource reserve, technical condition and environmental pressure, the environment-friendly and efficient utilization of oil shale resource will be the future emphasis of the oil shale development.
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