Assembled in series with multistage, Electrical Submersible Pumps (ESP) are widely used in offshore petroleum production due to the high production rate and efficiency. The hydraulic performance of ESPs is subjected to the fluid viscosity. High oil viscosity leads to the degradation of ESP boosting pressure compared to the catalog curves under water flow. In this paper, the influence of fluid viscosity on the performance of a 14-stage radial-type ESP under varying operational conditions, e.g. rotational speeds 1800–3500 r/min, viscosities 25–520 cP, was investigated. Numerical simulations were conducted on the same ESP model using a commercial Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software. The simulated average pump head is comparable to the corresponding experimental data under different viscosities and rotational speeds with less than ±20% prediction error. A mechanistic model accounting for the viscosity effect on ESP boosting pressure is proposed based on the Euler head in a centrifugal pump. A conceptual best-match flowrate QBM is introduced, at which the impeller outlet flow direction matches the designed flow direction. The recirculation losses caused by the mismatch of velocity triangles and other head losses resulted from the flow direction change, friction loss and leakage flow etc., are included in the model. The comparison of model predicted pump head versus experimental measurements under viscous fluid flow conditions demonstrates good agreement. The overall prediction error is less than ±10%.