I am new to this whole process and was hoping somebody might be able to answer a few questions and provide some advice.
1. Names on mineral rights deed(s)?
My great-grandfather owned two quarter-sections in Billings County, ND. At some point, he sold the surface rights but retained the mineral rights. After he died, I presume his ten then-living childrens' families inherited the mineral rights, including my grandfather. It is my understanding that eight of the ten siblings have also now died, including my grandfather, but that they all have families.
I thought it would be logical that there would be mineral rights deeds available at the Billings County Recorder's office. However, they did some searching based on the location and names I gave them, and they were unable to find anything. They suggested that I have a company do a mineral rights search and create an "abstract".
Is there any way to determine the current owners of the mineral rights on the land in question? Should there be deeds recorded? If so, should the names on the deeds be updated to reflect the current heirs?
2. Leasing to some, but not all owners?
It is my understanding that Chesapeake Oil has signed a lease with and paid a bonus to one or more of the ten siblings or their families, although not my grandfather's family. Is it really OK for them to start exploring the land for oil with leases with only a small fraction of the owners? Can the other owners insist that they sign leases with them, as well?