As analysts awaited the latest government storage data hoping for insight into how much recent production declines have tightened the market, natural gas futures were down a few cents in early trading Thursday. The June Nymex contract was off 4.3 cents to $1.728/MMBtu at around 8:35 a.m. ET.

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Analysts expect the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 10:30 a.m. ET report to show an injection in the upper 80 Bcf range for the week ending May 15, which compares with the 101 Bcf injection recorded by the EIA last year for the week and the five-year average injection of 87 Bcf.

A Wall Street Journal poll of 11 market participants produced a range of storage estimates from 77 Bcf to 90 Bcf, with an average build of 84 Bcf. A Bloomberg survey of six analysts ranged from 76 Bcf to 91 Bcf, with a median estimate of a 84 Bcf injection. Reuters polled 17 analysts, whose estimates ranged between 73 Bcf and 97 Bcf, with a median injection of 83 Bcf. NGI projected an 86 Bcf build.

Last week, the EIA reported a 103 Bcf injection for the week ending May 8, boosting inventories to 2,422 Bcf, about 800 Bcf above year-ago levels and 413 Bcf above the five-year average.

“Interest in the EIA’s weekly storage prints has increased materially, as it provides a window into gas supply numbers, which vary considerably across data providers,” analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) said. “Looking at last week’s data (today’s print) we see demand up 1.4 Bcf/d week/week, driven by cold weather on the East Coast, which would imply a roughly 10 Bcf smaller build than the prior week, or a 93 Bcf injection before adjusting for supply changes.”

Predictions for the latest EIA print show a “wide range of potential outcomes,” the TPH team noted.

“A print toward the bottom end of the range would imply a market much tighter than we’re currently modeling and create some breathing room on storage capacity versus our projected peak of 4.1 Tcf,” the analysts said.

After factoring in cooler than normal temperatures for the eastern two thirds of the country during this week’s EIA report period, NatGasWeather said its algorithm landed on an injection around 86-87 Bcf.

“Declining natural gas production received all the attention to open the week, but it sure seems further declines will be needed when considering today’s EIA report will be factoring in much greater than normal” degree day totals “yet will only be able to muster a build near to barely smaller than normal,” NatGasWeather said.

July crude oil futures were up 91 cents to $34.40/bbl at around 8:35 a.m. ET, while June RBOB gasoline was up about 2.1 cents to $1.0647/gal.