Cairn Energy to begin Moroccan exploration

Cairn Energy training facility Cairn said it was about to start on an "intense operational period on the exploration front"

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Oil firm Cairn Energy has announced it is to start a year-long "high impact" exploration programme, with drilling to begin soon in Morocco.

The company said the move would offer shareholders "exposure to material growth potential".

A number of possible follow-up exploration prospects have also been mapped.

Cairn said that a decision would be made soon on whether to drill the Pitu prospect off Greenland next year.

The Edinburgh-based group's drilling programme in Greenland has so far been unsuccessful and has been strongly criticised by environmentalists.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Cairn said that it remained in a "strong financial position ready to enter an intense operational period on the exploration front".

Chief executive Simon Thomson said: "Cairn continues to follow its policy of maintaining appropriate balance sheet strength as it progresses its exploration and development programmes."

The company also announced it would begin a share buy back programme of up to $300m (£186m).

Cairn got shareholder approval for the move earlier in the year.

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