Oil prices finished higher on Thursday with both the US crude benchmark and Brent exceeding $100 a barrel in intraday trading, as traders assessed geopolitical tensions over Ukraine.
The West Texas Intermediate for April delivery added 71 cents to settle at $92.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after hitting a session high of $100.54. Brent crude for April delivery increased $2.24 to close at $99.08 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange, after touching $105.77 earlier in the session.
Both crude benchmarks hit their highest intraday level since 2014, Xinhua news agency reported.
The oil rally came as the tensions between Russia and Ukraine have escalated into a military conflict overnight.
Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised on Thursday “a special military operation” in Donbas, and Ukraine confirmed that military targets across the country were under attack.
Market participants feared that the escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions would disrupt energy supplies, experts noted.
Traders also parsed newly-released weekly US fuel inventory data.
US crude oil stockpiles increased by 4.5 million barrels during the week ending February 18, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Thursday. Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts had forecast the US crude inventories to show a fall of 0.3 million barrels.
According to the EIA, total motor gasoline inventories and distillate fuel inventories both decreased by 0.6 million barrels last week.