The Energy Information Administration (EIA) delivered no surprises on Thursday, reporting an on-target 87 Bcf injection into storage inventories for the week ending Oct. 22.

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Natural gas futures were already sharply lower ahead of the EIA report on returning production and stronger wind generation. The November Nymex contract was down 30.0 cents to around $5.900/MMBtu just ahead of the report. As the print crossed trading desks, the prompt month slipped to around $5.870 and by 11 a.m. ET was at $5.846, off 35.2 cents from Wednesday’s close.

Bespoke Weather Services said the 87 Bcf injection once again reflected loose supply/demand balances versus the five-year average. This is a common theme outside of a week earlier in a month that featured very low wind, according to the forecaster.

Analysts appeared to have a good handle on the EIA figure. Ahead of the report, a Bloomberg survey showed injection estimates ranging from 77 Bcf to 94 Bcf, with a median injection of 88 Bcf. The same range was seen in a larger Reuters poll of 17 analysts, in which a median injection of 86 Bcf was produced. The same range of projections in a Wall Street Journal survey averaged at a 85 Bcf injection. NGI modeled a much larger 94 Bcf increase in stocks.

For reference, EIA recorded a 32 Bcf increase last year and the five-year average is a 62 Bcf build.

Broken down by region, the South Central led with a 36 Bcf increase in storage inventories, including a 21 Bcf build in salt facilities and a 15 Bcf addition to nonsalts, according to EIA. Midwest stocks rose by 25 Bcf, and East stocks increased by 23 Bcf. Pacific and Mountain inventories were up by the single digits.

Total working gas in storage as of Oct. 22 was 3,548 Bcf, which is 403 Bcf below year-ago levels and 126 Bcf below the five-year average, EIA said.

Looking ahead to next week’s EIA report, Bespoke said early indications pointed to a 65 Bcf injection, which also would be loose to the five-year average. “All of this simply means we will need more cold in order to sustain these price levels or move higher.”