As traders braced for the release of updated government inventory data, expected to reveal another triple-digit shoulder season injection, natural gas futures traded close to even early Thursday. The November Nymex contract was off 1.0 cent to $6.425/MMBtu shortly after 8:50 a.m. ET.

Surveys ahead of the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 10:30 a.m. ET storage report have been pointing to an injection in the 120s Bcf for the week ended Oct. 7.

A Bloomberg survey of nine analysts varied widely, with injection estimates from 85 Bcf to 137 Bcf. The median in that survey was 127 Bcf. A Reuters poll of 14 analysts produced a median injection estimate of 122 Bcf, with predictions ranging from 110 Bcf to 137 Bcf.

A build in line with surveys would mark the fourth straight triple-digit injection this shoulder season. Another triple-digit print for this week’s EIA report would also far surpass historical norms. The five-year average is an injection of 82 Bcf, while EIA recorded an 86 Bcf build in the year-earlier period.

This week’s print could rival the historically large 129 Bcf injection reported last week, EBW Analytics Group analyst Eli Rubin observed.

“Very weak cash prices last week imply enormous salt storage injections, while three consecutive above-consensus builds increase uncertainty for today’s report,” Rubin said.

Temperatures during the EIA report week were warmer than normal over the West and Plains, with the South and East experiencing cooler than normal conditions, according to NatGasWeather.

“We expect a build of 131 Bcf, and if close, this will improve deficits from minus-264 Bcf to minus-215 Bcf,” NatGasWeather said. Coming off “choppy” trade over the past few weeks, “today’s EIA report is likely to aid volatility, although there’s a plethora of other major factors that could impact price action, highlighted by daily news out of Europe on energy supplies and policy due to the continued Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Wednesday saw the November contract continue to “trade sideways,” according to EBW’s Rubin. The analyst pointed to prices “closing within 30 cents of $6.72 for a fifteenth straight session, while nonetheless covering a 40.4 cent intraday range. Technicals and bearish short-term fundamentals imply further declines, but medium-term upside price risks loom large.”

As for overnight forecast trends, models reversed changes observed in Wednesday’s runs to add demand during the Oct. 21-27 time frame, according to NatGasWeather.

“It was no surprise the overnight weather data added demand for the eight- to 15-day period since the weather data was about as bearish as it could be after warmer trends midday yesterday,” the firm said. Despite the additional heating degree days projected for Oct. 21-27, “this period is still bearish, with much of the U.S. forecast to be 10-20 degrees warmer than normal.”