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Make or Breakeven: Is Unconventional Oil Production Getting More Efficient? If the benchmark oil price is $10/bbl higher than the breakeven price for production that means companies are making good money, right? Maybe, but it’s hard to know what goes into a breakeven price. Petrobras says it can produce oil for a lower break-even price than onshore shale plays, including the Permian Basin. Brazil’s offshore sector has cut the cost of deepwater production but comparisons based on break-even prices are slippery.