For the world’s largest oil companies , the accelerating crash in crude prices will probably mean scrapping investments from America’s shale fields to the seas off Brazil as CEOs protect dividend payments. The parts of the industry most exposed to cutbacks include certain U.S. shale deposits, where break-even costs vary from $40 to more than $100 a barrel. While some, such Russian oil tycoon Leonid Fedun , say the slump will halt a good deal of production, others argue that the shale industry will be able to maintain production for some time at these price levels . In the longer term, the greater dilemma for oil producers is that even as crude drops the costs of developing new reserves remain higher than ever. An extended period of lower prices will prevent companies from being able to replace production as existing fields dwindle. In ensuring investors get paid, companies may […]