Lipow Oil Associates President Andy Lipow on how Hurricane Florence has impacted the US oil industry.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 94 cents, or 1.4%, at $69.85/Bbl, off a session high of $70.42/Bbl.
He did not specify how crude producers would compensate for declining exports from Iran, with new U.S. sanctions due to hit the Islamic republic´s oil industry on November 4.
Investors are now assessing the Saudis' mixed message on oil prices versus its earlier pledge to increase output, said Hong Sungki, a commodities trader at NH Investment & Securities Co.in Seoul.
Mr Barkindo did not, however, address how the global oil industry immediately can replace Iranian crude supplies in an already-tight market.
Stockpiles of distillate fuels, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 1.5 million barrels, the API data showed, compared with expectations for a 651,000-barrel gain.
Oil prices inched up on Wednesday as concerns that producers may not be able to cover a shortfall in supply once US sanctions on Iran kick in outweighed a gain in USA stockpiles.More news: PlayStation Classic Retro Console Announced by Sony
Saudi officials were careful to avoid pinpointing a price target in their conversations, saying that while the kingdom has no desire to push prices higher than $80 a barrel, it may no longer be possible to avoid it.
Oil futures also drew support from geopolitical risk on Tuesday.
With Iran's crude sales falling due to the USA sanctions and countries such as Venezuela struggling to avoid outright economic collapse, it was perhaps inevitable that Mohammad Barkindo, secretary general for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), would tell Reuters that his cartel will keep working with other oil producers to manage global supplies in the face of demand for crude facing "headwinds".
China, one of the world's largest oil consumers, on Tuesday added $60 billion of US products to its import tariff list.
Elsewhere, the latest escalation in the tit-for-tat trade war between the United States and China stoked worries over global economic growth and demand for oil.
On Monday, the Trump administration said it would begin to levy new tariffs of 10 percent on about $200 billion of Chinese products next Monday, with the tariffs to go up to 25 percent by the end of 2018.
The potential for a full-blown trade war between the US and China could also undercut demand by reducing economic growth globally.