Generally, artificial lifts to pump crude oil having a high viscosity from wellbores using an electrical submersible pump (ESP) are not efficient. The present study consists of a numerical approach to understand the effect of fluid viscosity and surface roughness of the flow passage on the performance of an ESP. A three-dimensional numerical analysis was carried out using Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations at different off-design conditions. The standard k-ϵ turbulence model was used for the steady incompressible flow. Water and crude oils having different viscosities were used as working fluids and numerical analyses were made by varying surface roughness of the flow passage. Although there was a sharp drop in the efficiency with the increase in surface roughness, but the combined effect of viscosity and surface roughness showed an increase in efficiency up to a certain fluid viscosity. © Copyright 2016 by ASME.