Against a backdrop of sweltering heat at home and surging prices abroad, and with traders still factoring in the balance implications of an extended outage at a major U.S. export facility, natural gas futures advanced early Thursday ahead of the latest round of government storage data.

NGI Morning Natural Gas Price & Markets Coverage

The July Nymex contract was up 38.3 cents to $7.803/MMBtu at around 8:50 a.m. ET. August was up 37.0 cents to $7.776.

Surveys suggest expectations are centered around an injection in the low 90s Bcf for the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 10:30 a.m. ET storage report, which covers changes to Lower 48 stocks during the week ended June 10.

Bloomberg’s survey as of Wednesday produced injection estimates that spanned 83 Bcf to 96 Bcf, with a median of 91 Bcf. A Wall Street Journal poll found an average injection expectation of 90 Bcf, and it also produced a range of 83 Bcf to 96 Bcf. Reuters’ poll landed at a median injection of 91 Bcf, with estimates ranging from 81 Bcf to 98 Bcf.

The estimates compare with an injection of 28 Bcf during the same week last year and a five-year average injection of 79 Bcf.

“It was hotter than normal over much of the West, Texas and the far East Coast, while slightly cool across the Plains, Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley,” NatGasWeather said of temperatures during the EIA report week. “We expect a build of 79-80 Bcf, aided by much lighter week/week wind energy generation.”

After plummeting dramatically on Tuesday following the revelation that the Freeport liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal won’t return to full service until late this year, prices have since mounted a recovery. This has been aided by a combination of “soaring” prices in the international market, record heat and strength in LNG feed gas demand not including Freeport, according to EBW Analytics Group.

In the context of assessing the price impacts of the latest EIA report, it is the “ongoing assessment of the ramifications” of the Freeport outage that “is likely to overshadow trading for the next several sessions,” EBW senior analyst Eli Rubin told clients.

Looking at the latest forecast, NatGasWeather said the 15-day outlook remained “solidly hot and bullish” as of early Thursday. 

The pattern next week would deliver “strong to very strong national demand” as a “hot upper ridge regains ground to rule most of the interior U.S. with widespread highs of 90s and 100s, including ominous heat and humidity across the Southeast,” NatGasWeather said.

“Going forward, we expect a prolonged battle between bullish weather patterns/tight supplies versus months of underperforming LNG exports due to the Freeport LNG outage,” the firm said.