EQT denying royalties after lease signed with Rice

EQT seems to be denying executory interest although Rice Energy landmen didn’t read the deed that way and leased the minerals to us. EQT has not responded with clarification but I learned the Title Manager is reviewing it. My ancestors are the sellers of the land. Deed says land is conveyed with “excepting and reserving 1/2 of the gas royalties and 1/16 of the oil, together with 1/2 of all bonuses, 1/2 of all rentals…Further, the parties of the first part are to join with the said party of the second part in the leasing of said property for oil and gas privileges.” The EQT analyst then says “we have assumed that the royalty, rental and bonus reservation expired upon the death of the sellers and reverted to the surface owners. However we have vested the heirs with a 50% executory privilege”. There is no language anywhere in the deed stating that the rights revert to the land owners. EQT is paying royalties to the owners of the land. They are saying there is “ambiguous reservation of executory interest”. I have showed the deed to several landmen and none of them sees an ambiguous reservation. Anyone have a comment or experiencing the same thing? EQT is having trouble right now and I wonder if they are kind of trimming the royalty payments?

Thank you LookingatPosts! I appreciate the full interpretation and your comment that it is poorly written (which others have said also). I have just sent a certified letter to EQT asking for a reexamination of their ruling because I have been unable to get any information when calling or emailing although one agent did tell me that it had been for review and the reviewer said “it could be contentious”. Do you have any recommendations? We do not want to go to court over it - it just seems like EQT should be more transparent.

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