Rigel is known to be a "highly successful" unproduced methane gas field.
The seeps were identified by the Joint Analysis Group and research vessel Thomas Jefferson.
The Joint Analysis Group is comprised of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
Several seeps southwest of the BP blow-out were first reported on June 21, 2010 by scientists aboard the R/V Thomas Jefferson. The seepage "appears to be natural gas" (methane) according to the NOAA report.
Did these seeps exist before BP began exploration of the doomed Macondo prospect?
Former Shell Oil executive and current Berkeley engineering professor Robert Bea is "troubled that we're just now hearing about seeps three kilometers away, because a survey of the seabed conducted before BP drilled its well didn't indicate anything like that," according to the Times-Picayune.
He said, "There was nothing that indicated the presence of such a seep... I wonder why we're just now finding that out?"
Bea has "very little confidence in what's been said publicly about the seeps."
This July 23 JAG report image shows areas of seepage near the BP blow-out, with the majority appearing near the Rigel gas field. Seeps are identified by purple cylinders:
Seeps shown as 'red and yellow columns' & 'purple cylinders' in the June 21 report by the R/V Thomas Jefferson:
More information on the Rigel gas field: