By Nathalie Voit

Brent oil futures, the world’s crude benchmark, topped $90 on Jan. 26 for the first time since October 2014. The contract opened at $87.95 to hit a day high of $90.47, surging over 2%.

Year-over-year, Brent crude surged roughly 70%. Year to date, the global oil benchmark increased 14.61%, up from $78.11 on Jan. 3. The numbers are far from April 2020’s pandemic-era low of $15.98, recorded on April 19.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the U.S. oil standard, also climbed over 2% to hit a peak of $87.95 on Wednesday.

The substantial contract growth arrives amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia, who appear to be on the brink of war, Al Jazeera reported.  

According to Barclays, the market may be reacting to a “geopolitical premium.” However, the British financial services provider believes “underlying fundamentals,” such as ongoing supply shortages and persistent demand, are responsible for the plurality of higher crude prices, CNBC reported. 

Nonetheless, the possibility of sanctions on Russia should it invade Ukraine would be a “catalyst” for potential triple-digit oil growth.

“Each day that passes without a de-escalation, we could see more of a supporting bid to crude,” said CIBC Private Wealth’s Rebecca Babin, according to CNBC.

However, in a sign of good news, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its weekly petroleum status report that crude oil stockpiles rose by 2.4 million barrels to 416.2 million barrels during the week ending Jan. 21. Analysts had estimated an increase of just 150,000 barrels, CNBC said. 

Despite news of the EIA inventory report, WTI and Brent Crude prices are still nearing the $90 mark, with WTI up at $86.61 and Brent Crude up at $89.24 as of 3:30 p.m. ET.