April natural gas is set to open 2 cents lower Friday morning at $1.77 as traders try to get a grip on ever-growing ending inventories prior to the injection season. Overnight oil markets rose.

Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective said the 117 Bcf pull reported Thursday “was much smaller than our simple weather-based model’s 145 Bcf forecast, implying some weakening of the underlying supply-demand balance and a bearish shift in the baseline for the weeks ahead.”

Evans forecasts next week’s storage withdrawal report at a mere 35 Bcf, much less than last year’s 204 Bcf and a five-year average of 144 Bcf. By March 11 he anticipates the year-on-five-year surplus at a titanic 765 Bcf.

“The uptrend in the surplus confirms the market is becoming increasingly overstocked on a seasonally adjusted basis, with a corresponding increase in the downward pressure on prices.”

Gas buyers across the PJM footprint should have ample renewable generation to offset weekend gas purchases for power generation. WSI Corp. in its Friday morning report said, “High pressure will promote fair, yet cooler temperatures [Friday] into tomorrow. A clipper type low-pressure system is expected to sweep across the Canadian border Sunday into Monday, producing a period of rain showers and clouds. Total precipitation will range between 0.1-0.25 inches. After a cool start to the period (highs in the 30s-40s), a warming trend this weekend will promote above average temperatures to begin next week (highs in the 50s-60s).

“A southwesterly breeze will promote modest wind gen prospects over the next couple of days as output will slowly rise from 3 GW to 6 GW through Sunday. Flow is expected to become more variable next week, reducing prospects.”

In overnight Globex trading April crude oil rose 90 cents to $33.97/bbl and April RBOB gasoline was a penny higher at $1.3249/gal.