Centrifugal pumps are extensively used in the oil and gas industries and the pump performance drops with higher viscosity and higher surface roughness of the pump impeller, and the impeller design parameters have significant effect on the pump performance. Through the present research, crude oil pumping behavior has been predicted, analyzed and compared with other fluids. A 3D flow simulation using Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) equation was performed by considering different blade angles and impeller surface roughness to pump crude oil, kerosene, gasoline, saline-water and water. Standard k-ε two-equation turbulence model was used for the turbulent closure of steady incompressible flow. The investigation shows that the blade angles have significant influence on the head, input power and efficiency of the impeller for different liquids. Higher head and power, and lower hydraulic efficiency were observed with higher surface roughness values. © 2015, The Author(s).