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In 1916, immediately prior to the Russian Revolution, a Russian engineer developed a submergible electric motor/centrifugal pump that could be used in water wells, mines, and ships. The inventor was Armais Sergeevich Arutunoff, born in the Caucasus Mountains in 1893. After immigrating to the United States in 1923, in 1928 he came to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, to work for Phillips Petroleum Company. With Phillips's backing, he refined his pump for use in oil wells and first successfully demonstrated it in a well in Kansas. The device was manufactured by Bart Manufacturing Company, which in 1930 changed its name to REDA Pump, with the letters representing the words "Russian Electrical Dynamo of Arutunoff."

The electric submergible pump (commonly called ESP) was a self-contained unit forty feet long and four inches in diameter. Suspended by steel cables, it was dropped down the well casing into oil or water and turned on, creating a suction that would lift the liquid to the surface formation through pipes. The ESP was used successfully to increase production in very deep wells. A boon to the industry, the unit quickly replaced the old-fashioned, mechanical lifts formerly used in the oil fields. REDA expanded to cover nine acres north of Bartlesville. At the end of the twentieth century the company was the world's largest manufacturer of ESP systems and was part of Schlumberger.

A holder of more than ninety patents in the United States, Armais Arutunoff died in February 1978 in Bartlesville. He is represented in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gerald Forbes, Flush Production: The Epic of Oil in the Gulf-Southwest (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942). Who's Who in America (38th ed.; New Providence, N.J.: A. N. Marquis, 1974-75). Joe Williams, Bartlesville: Remembrances of Times Past, Reflections of Today (Bartlesville, Okla.: TRW Reda Pump Division, 1978).

Dianna Everett

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