It also signalled it will decide before the end of the year whether to go ahead with a controversial drilling project offshore Greenland with joint venture partner Statoil.
Edinburgh-based Cairn said yesterday the Morocco programme will mark the start of a frontier exploration campaign along the Atlantic Margin.
Taking in exploration, appraisal and high-impact drilling off Senegal, Mauritania, Ireland and Greenland, the campaign will target resources of four billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), with the "yet to find" potential up to 10 billion boe.
Cairn's plan to drill in the Pitu licence off Greenland has bee criticised by environmentalists. The firm - the operator for the licence - has previously said it met rigorous standards without incident as it carried out a frontier exploration programme in the last two years.
Cairn also released an interim management statement yesterday to confirm it had initiated a share buyback programme. Analysts roundly welcome the move, which will see it purchase up to $300 million (£186m) of ordinary shares in the firm, representing 11.5% of its market capitalisation.
Morgan Stanley, which said Cairn would fund the move from capital expenditure savings and cash proceeds from the Mariner [North Sea stake] disposal, described the repurchase as "an important signal of capital discipline".
It added: "We think this clear message combined with an attractive risk-reward ahead of the upcoming and material drilling campaign makes for an appealing investment opportunity and with 40% upside we stay OW (over-weight)."
GMP Securities said the share buyback "will be viewed positively as Cairn's market cap of £2.6bn is at a small premium to its tangible valuation support of $2.4bn provided by the $1bn value of the 10.3% financial holding in Cairn India and a cash pile of around $1.4bn".
It said: "We think Cairn can move beyond its 'value trap' status and return to a growth rating as Cairn starts drilling on its firm upcoming wells in Morocco and Senegal (drilling in quarter one 2014)."
Investors reacted in line with the brokers view by sending shares up more than 3% in morning trading.
Cairn chief executive Simon Thomson said: "Cairn has built a strategic position along the frontier basin of the Atlantic Margin, including Morocco, Senegal, Ireland, Mauritania and Greenland and is about to commence a 12-month multi-well high impact exploration programme offering shareholders exposure to material growth potential.
"Cairn continues to follow its policy of maintaining appropriate balance sheet strength as it progresses its exploration and development programmes."
The focus of Cairn's drilling off Morocco is on the Foum Draa block, in which it has a 50% working interest, using the Cajun Express rig.
The company said the primary target for the well is a "late Jurassic/early Cretaceous deep deep-water turbidite slope fan and channel complex. Operations here are expected to take about 60 days.
The second well in the sequence, Cairn said, is in the Juby Maritime III block, where it has a 37.5% stake. It hopes to commence operations here in the final quarter of this year or in the first three months of 2014.
Elsewhere on the Atlantic Margin, Cairn is aiming to kick off well exploration programmes off Senegal in the first quarter of 2014, after operations are complete in Morocco.
One exploration will be located on the North Fan composite prospect in water depth of 1500 metres, with the other on a shelf edge composite prospect in a depth of 1100 metres.
Cairn added that plans are underway for its proposed Spanish Point appraisal and exploration well off the west of Ireland, in which it holds a 38% stake. It hopes to start work on the well in the second quarter of 2014.
Shares in Cairn closed up 13.4p at 289.4p.