The first commercially viable electrical submersible pumping (ESP) system was invented and patented by Armais Arutunoff in 1926 after he migrated from Tiflis in the Russian Empire to the United States (with a brief stop in Germany in between). He started the Russian Electrical Dynamo of Arutunoff company while in Germany—called REDA for short—and had grown into the world’s largest manufacturer of ESPs at the turn of the century. REDA is currently owned by Schlumberger.

Though the inventor of the ESP was Russian (born to Armenian parents in the Caucuses Mountains between the Caspian and Black Sea), the technology would not be developed and manufactured for use in what was then the Soviet Union for another 25 years.

To support the war effort in 1943, the United States sent 50 REDA ESPs to the Soviet Union under a lend-lease agreement so the USSR could more efficiently produce the newly discovered Tatarstan and Bashkiria fields. The REDA ESP pumps were a huge success in Russia. They were studied extensively by Soviet engineers. Led by Alexandr Antonovich Bogdanov, a group of engineers traveled to the United States to meet with Armais Arutunoff and his REDA pump team. They left the meeting in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with designs, drawings, and a solid understanding of electrical submersible pump design.

In 1949, Alexandr Antonovich Bogdanov gave a presentation to the USSR Ministry of Petroleum detailing the success of the REDA ESPs in the Soviet Union under the lend-lease agreement with the Americans. He also went into great detail about the history, design, operation, maintenance, and economic impact of ESPs on the American oil industry.

A year later in 1950, the CONNAS Special Design Bureau for Rodless Pumps was opened near the outskirts of Moscow. Bogdanov was appointed to lead the Russian effort to begin ESP manufacturing and production. Less than a year after the CONNAS Design Bureau opened, the first ESP installation was successfully run in the Soviet Union on March 20, 1951.

The work done at the CONNAS Design Bureau was instrumental in increasing oil production in the Soviet Union and in helping the country recover from World War II. Before the ESP was introduced, production across the USSR totaled around 40 million tons of oil per year. Over the next 30 years, the widespread use of ESPs was largely responsible for oil production that hit 500 million tons annually. As of 2010, 75% of the oil produced in the Russian Federation came from wells running ESPs.

The CONNAS facility remained in use as the main ESP test facility for the Soviet Union, and later the Russian Federation, for over half a century. Novomet took control of the CONNAS Design Bureau in 2009 and now refers to it as the CONNAS Multifunction Test Facility. We honor the engineering pioneers that have come before us at CONNAS and are proud to keep their legacy alive and to carry on their work of developing and testing new artificial lift and ESP technologies.

  • Our high-efficiency pump stages were designed, developed, and tested at the CONNAS facility, aided in large part by the purchase of a new laser sintering unit that enables rapid prototyping of pump stages.
  • Our permanent magnet motors, which improve efficiency compared to industry-standard induction motors, were also developed at CONNAS. Together, the high-efficiency pump stages and permanent magnet motors combine to deliver 25–30% greater ESP efficiency than the next closest competitor. The result is an ESP system that reduces the electricity required to produce oil.
  • We recently upgraded the labs and test wells, giving us the ability to develop and test 16 sizes of ESPs with a feed range of 65 to 62,000 bbl/day (10 to 10,000 m3/day). CONNAS remains a vital resource for oil production research and is used regularly by other Russian and international production companies for testing. The role of the design bureau in promoting our PowerSave and SlimLine ESP systems is invaluable. Demonstration tests and objective data have repeatedly shown the energy savings that this new generation of ESPs provide.

The CONNAS Multifunction Test Facility also serves as a leading training facility for engineers in the oilfield. CONNAS test wells are outfitted with the latest equipment and are ideal for teaching engineers and university students alike about parametric, acceptance, and periodic testing. The test wells are commonly used for demonstrations and can be easily reconfigured to be used in laboratory experiments, practical exercises, and customer testing programs. CONNAS test wells can be used to test and research induction motors, permanent magnet motors, gas separators, dispersers, centrifugal pumps, protectors, variable speed drives, etc.

CONNAS engineers are still at the forefront of engineering and design in artificial lift today. Our scientific research and drive to build a better ESP do not stop. We would be remiss to fail to mention a lifetime of contributions by Sh. R. Ageev, whose entire working life is connected with the CONNAS Design Bureau of the BN, starting in 1959. And largely thanks to today's general director, F. T. Mirzoyev, the CONNAS facility held true to its purpose during the difficult 90s and retains the scientific and research potential it has today.