What: Shares of Brazilian oil company Petroleo Brasiliero SA (NYSE:PBR), also known as Petrobras, ended up 11% as of 4:00 p.m. EDT after the company announced its monthly production rates came in better than expected.

So what: Petrobras announced today that total oil production for May came in at 2.83 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, a 5% increase from the prior month. While a large part of that increase has to do with the company bringing two new wells online from the offshore pre-salt formations, some of it also had to do with several production facilities in the basin doing turnaround work in April that hampered total production numbers.

Also in the report, the company announced that production from those same pre-salt fields was in excess of 1 million barrels per day. Production costs in the region have declined to $8 per barrel of oil equivalent -- and are continuing to decline as new wells are being connected to existing infrastructure in the region. Total time to drill a well has been reduced by 71% between 2010 and today.

Now what: Petrobras could use any good news it can get right now, and some of the items mentioned in this report do help. Getting production levels up and reducing production costs will go a long way toward helping the company increase profitability to a degree, but it's still going to be hampered by lower oil prices. 

At the same time, though, Petrobras is facing several billion in debt repayments coming due in the next several years, and it's dealing with the ongoing corruption scandals going on in Brazil. While today's news does bode well, the company is still far from out of the woods.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.