Analyzing the US Gulf Coast petrochemical port polycentric region, and its connectivity with the European Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region

K.B.J. Van den Berghe, Antoine Peris, Wouter Jacobs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter applies the polycentric port region perspective on the US Gulf Region. This concept, which originates from urban studies, has recently been adapted by Van den Berghe et al. (2022) to study multiport gateway regions, with focus on the European Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) petrochemical port region. The central research question is if and to what extent the US Gulf Region is also a polycentric port region. To do this, we analyzed the three dimensions of polycentric port regions: morphological, functional, and institutional. Based on Automatic Identification System (AIS) shipping network data, geographical mapping, and institutional historical analyses, our empirical results show that the US Gulf Region can be regarded as an emergent polycentric port region. Although there are important differences with ARA, also the US Gulf port region exists of a set of different port regions where several different petrochemical functions are located and that are functionally related. In other words, to some degree, but less than ARA, specialization and complementarity is in play. In line with the ARA region, the emergence of the oil spot market is an important moment. For the US, the physical delivery point is in Cushing, Oklahoma, and not along the coast, which differs to ARA. Nevertheless, we conclude that both regions – being the first and second most important petrochemical regions in the world – are polycentric and on top of that have important relations between them. With the current shocks in the energy market, using such perspective can help us understand what is happening or will occur in these regions; not the least in reference to the hydrogen and post-fossil chemical sector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPort Systems in Global Competition
Subtitle of host publicationSpatial-Economic Perspectives on the Co-Development of Seaports
EditorsTheo Notteboom, Cesar Ducruet
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781032327730
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Transport Analysis


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