January natural gas declined Wednesday largely in concert with the petroleum complex and as traders braced for a government storage report with widely varying estimates but nonetheless anticipated to show a decline significantly less than historical averages. At the close January had slid 6.6 cents to $3.421 and February had given up 6.5 cents to $3.458. January crude oil dropped 79 cents to $100.49/bbl.
Estimates of the 10:30 a.m. EST EIA report show a wide variation. A Reuters survey of 26 analysts showed an average withdrawal of 12 Bcf and a range from a 42 Bcf decline to a 3 Bcf build. IAF Advisors in Houston is looking for a pull of 3 Bcf and industry consultant Bentek Energy utilizing its North American flow model predicts a pull of 1 Bcf. Last year 79 Bcf were withdrawn and the five-year average pace stands at 66 Bcf.
In a report Bentek cautioned that it saw "most of the risk to the downside this week. A stronger-than-forecast draw in the East is highly likely as the largest storage facilities in the region reported large draws for the week. Dominion System was the only exception, which had no change week-on-week. The Thanksgiving holiday provided some support for a small draw or even a national injection as demand declines during the four-day holiday added uncertainty for this week's forecast."
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