Surging crude oil prices helped push the 2011 profit of Venezuela\'s state-owned oil group PDVSA up 42 percent to $4.496 billion, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez announced Tuesday. Ramirez, who is also head of the company, released the annual report showing revenues up 31.4 percent from a year earlier to $124.75 billion. Petroleos de Venezuela, the main source of revenue for firebrand President Hugo Chavez\'s government, benefitted from the rise in global crude oil prices following the Arab Spring uprisings. The average price was $101 per barrel, up 39 percent, PDVSA said. Ramirez, quoted by the state news agency AVN, said PDVSA expects to boost investments by 12 percent to $18 billion in a move aimed at increasing production. The South American nation says it produces three million barrels per day, although the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries estimates production at 2.3 million barrels. OPEC last year estimated Venezuelan reserves at 296.5 billion barrels, which would make it the largest in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia. Last month, government officials said the reserves were even higher at 297.57 billion. The United States last year announced sanctions against \"seven foreign entities\" including Venezuela\'s state oil company as part of new efforts to contain Iran\'s nuclear ambitions.