Crude oil prices remained unchanged to open steady on Tuesday following U.S. President Donald Trump's questioning as to why the U.S. continues to protect oil-shipping lanes in the Middle East.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $64.05 per barrel at 0615 GMT with a 0.1% loss after it closed Monday at $64.12 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate was at $57.87 a barrel at the same time for a 0.1% gain after ending the previous session at $57.80 per barrel.
Amid the rising tensions between Washington and Tehran, and attacks on multiple oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, oil prices climbed by more than 4% on Thursday.
Trump questioned Monday why his country should continue to protect oil transit lanes in the region for the benefit of other countries.
"China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight [sic], Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise," Trump wrote on Twitter.
"... Why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation. All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey," he added.
The Strait of Hormuz, the world's largest oil transit chokepoint, saw a daily average oil flow of 21 million barrels per day in 2018, equivalent to approximately 21% of global petroleum liquids consumption last year, according to the U.S.' Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Around 76% of crude oil and condensate that moved through the Strait of Hormuz went to Asian markets last year, according to the EIA, while China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore accounted for 65% of all crude oil and condensate transit that passed through the Strait in 2018.
The Trump administration also imposed new sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office on Monday as tensions between the two countries boiled after Iran downed a U.S. drone.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the new sanctions aim to "lock up" billion of dollars worth of assets belonging to Khamenei and his office, adding that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif would be sanctioned later this week.
In addition, eight senior leaders of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the commanders of its air force and ground forces, and five naval district leaders, were also on the sanctions list.
By Ovunc Kutlu