December futures are expected to open 3 cents lower Thursday morning at $2.73 before release of a government inventory report that is expected to show record levels of natural gas in storage. Weather forecasters are mulling a variety of 11- to 15-day model interpretations. Overnight oil markets rose.

Weather forecasters are scratching their heads and trying to rationalize different model interpretations in more deferred time periods. "For the fourth day in a row, we continue to track major model differences for the upcoming 11-15 day range, which is now inching into early December," said Commodity Weather Group in its Thursday morning report to clients. "With very few short-range changes, the six-10 day edges warmer in the Midcontinent compared to [Wednesday], while the East Coast is close to flat.

"Most of the detail challenges revolve around another transient storm system moving across the country next week. The 11-15 day quandary continues this morning, with the European favoring a moderate warmth for the middle third of the U.S. and cooler risks toward both coasts. The American and Canadian are stronger, with cooler coastal risks, especially on the East Coast..." said Matt Rogers, president of the firm.

Near term doesn't seem to be much of a challenge at all. The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts well below normal heating requirements in major energy markets for the week ending Nov. 19. New England is forecast to see 124 heating degree days (HDD), or 46 below normal, and the Mid-Atlantic is set to experience 112 HDD, or 44 off its seasonal norm. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin should see 106 HDD, or a whopping 72 below normal.

The 10:30 a.m. EST release of storage figures from the Energy Information Administration is likely to push storage to another record. Supplies currently stand at a record 4,017 Bcf, and this week’s estimates are solidly in the plus column. Last year 26 Bcf was injected and the five-year average stands at 3 Bcf.

A Reuters survey of 19 traders and analysts revealed an average 31 Bcf with a range of 24 to 43 Bcf. PIRA Energy is looking for an increase of 27 Bcf and Ritterbusch and Associates calculates an increase of 35 Bcf.

In pre-opening activity Alan Harry, director of trading at McNamara Options, said he was hearing a 31 Bcf build as well.

In overnight Globex trading December crude oil rose 56 cents to $46.13/bbl and December RBOB gasoline gained a penny to $1.3314/gal.