What an eye opener for this novice!
I never imagined that the possibility (or promise) of receiving royalty payments could be construed as adequate "consideration" to allow the Lessee to not pay the bonus to the Lessor and still possess the lease as these paragraphs from the link state.
[¶21] The Reimers assert Irish Oil's failure to timely pay the bonus payments was a total failure of consideration. Irish Oil argues consideration has not failed, even without timely tender of the bonus payment. In particular, Irish Oil argues the primary consideration was the promise of "a 1/6th royalty in the event of production."
[¶22] In Davis v. Meagher Oil & Gas Props., Inc., the court held:
"A 'royalty' is considered the compensation or consideration a lessee pays to the lessor to secure the privilege of exercising the right to explore and develop the property for the production of oil and gas. The nature of a 'royalty' allows the lessee to avoid paying the lessor up front for the privilege of exploration, and to defer payment of 'consideration' upon an eventual yield accruing from the lessee's production efforts."
Thanks for the link.
The ND Supreme Court recently issued an opinion that might shed light upon some of your questions:
Irish Oil & Gas, Inc. v. Riemer, 2011 ND 22, 794 N.W.2d 715
Note that the decision was not unanimous as to all the parts which may make reading the case somewhat confusing. You should consult an attorney ASAP.