Hapag-Lloyd and Evergreen Marine have put in separate requests to Asian yards for the construction of more than a dozen mega containerships worth a combined US$2.2 billion, reported The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources.
Yang Ming and Cosco were also said to be "in the market for new ships but no orders are imminent."
Evergreen and Cosco, together with Cosco affiliate OOCL and CMA CGM, are members of the Ocean Alliance, while Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming and Ocean Network Express belong to THE Alliance.
In response to queries from American Shipper, both shipping lines provided general statements about their ship purchase plans.
Evergreen said in a statement: "To provide efficient marine transportation service and enhance operating competitiveness, Evergreen Line continues monitoring market development and customer demand, adopts advanced shipbuilding technologies to introduce the most suitable vessel types in line with the line's stringent eco-friendly criteria for fleet renewal.
"After the negotiations with tonnage suppliers are completed, information about our newbuilding programmes or charter parties will be announced as required by authorities concerned."
Hapag-Lloyd told American Shipper: "We regularly review the capacity of our fleet, and we are naturally also in constant contact with potential financiers and shipyards. At the same time, we also very closely examine whether medium-term capacity adjustments make economic sense.
"However, we do not plan to order any ships shortly. In that context, it does not make sense to speculate at this time about possible ship classes or propulsion technologies."
In its annual report for 2018, Hapag-Lloyd noted it had no orders for new ships and that it had a "very young and efficient fleet. As a result, it will not be necessary to invest in new ship systems in the short term. The existing fleet and cooperation with the partners in THE Alliance will make it possible to utilise the short-term expansion opportunities resulting from market growth and to realise economies of scale in ship operations."
The company added: "However, in order to remain competitive in the medium term, the executive board of Hapag-Lloyd AG believes that the group will invest in new ship systems again at the appropriate time."
As to what type of ships Hapag-Lloyd might order in the future, the company said in an in-house Navigator newsletter that "CMA CGM plans to put new 23,000-TEU ships to sea this year" and Cosco has commissioned a feasibility study for a 25,000-TEU vessel.