Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA), an Alberta Crown Corporation reporting to the minister of energy, was established in 1974 to promote the development and use of new technology for oil sands and heavy-oil production, with emphasis on reduced costs, increased recovery and environmental acceptability. Enhanced recovery of conventional crude oil was added to AOSTRA's mandate in 1979.
AOSTRA was merged into the Provincial Ministry of Energy's Oil Sands and Research Division in 1994. The corporation was dissolved in 2000 and its assets and liabilities were vested in the Alberta Science and Research Authority.
AOSTRA projects were selected by a government-appointed board consisting of up to 9 members with experience in petroleum development and technology management. AOSTRA operated primarily through projects, the costs of which were shared with industry; the resultant technology was available to any user at fair market value. AOSTRA also supported research at Canadian universities and research institutions, provided grants to inventors, funded the operation of a technical information system, and promoted international co-operation in oil sands development.
Educational assistance was provided through scholarships and fellowships. AOSTRA spent more than $620 million over the life of the program, with comparable expenditures by industry, making it one of the largest single-purpose research and development programs in Canada in its lifetime.
On 1 August 2001, the Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI) was established, and assumed responsibility for the oil and gas research programs that had been administered by AOSTRA.